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Full text of "The writings of St. Francis of Assisi"

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THE WRITINGS 
OF ST FRANCIS 
OF ASSISI 



Ecctttr 



THE WRITINGS OF 

S T FRANCIS 

ofzAssisi 



d\ewly translated into English from the 
original texts according to the French 
Edition a/T.Ubald D'Alen- 
con, o.s.f.cc/ By Con- 
stance, Countess 
de la warr 



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LONDON 

BURNS <£s? OATES 

ORCHARD STREET 
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Printed at the Arden Press Letchworth 



The Foreword 

THE minor works of St Francis of Assist were 
translated into English for the first time, I 
think, in 1890, in London, by a Religious of the 
Franciscan Order. This translation was made 
from the text given by the celebrated Wadding, 
whose Latin edition was published at Antwerp 
in the year 1623. 

Since that epoch two books which are very 
important for our matter have recently ap- 
peared, edited respectively by L. Lemmens 
(Opuscula Sancli Patris Francisci Assisiensis sec. 
codices MSS. emendata et denuo edita a PP. 
Collegii S. Bonaventurce. Quaracchi, 1904) and 
by Dr H. Boehmer (Analekten zur Geschichte 
des Franciscus von Assist: S. Francisci Opuscula. 
Tubingen und Leipzig, 1904); and it is especially 
the work of Lemmens to which Father Paschal 
Robinson was indebted in the preparation of the 
very fine translation published in the United 
States of America (The Writings of St Francis 
of Assist'. Philadelphia, 1906). It is fitting that 
England also should possess a version of its 
own; and this is furnished in the present work, 
as the basis of which Lady de la Warr has done 
me the honour to use my critical French edition 
(Paris: Poussielgue, 1905). 

£ d'A. 



CONTENTS 

The Foreword v 

Father d' Alencon's Introduction ix 

I. Concerning Wadding's Edition ix 

II. The Authentic Works xii 

III. The Doubtful Writings xxii 

IV. The Documents given in Appendix xxv 

The Authentic Works 

'The Rule of the Friars Minor, 1210-1221 1 

vThe Rule of the Friars Minor, 1223 28 

• The Testament 37 

Fragments of the Rule of St Clare 42 

» Admonitions 43 

A Letter to all the Faithful 55 
A Letter to the Chapter-General and all the Friars 63 

A Letter to a Minister 69 

A Letter to the Rulers of the People 71 

A Letter to Clerks on the Body of" the Lord 72 

A Letter to all the Guardians, I and II 74 

A Letter to Brother Leo 76 

On the Religious dwelling in Hermitages 77 

The Sheet to Brother Leo 79 

Prayer, "God Almighty" 80 

Explanation of the Pater iioster 81 

Salutation of the Blessed Virgin 85 

Salutation of the Virtues 85 

A Prayer to obtain Love 86 

The Office of the Passion 87 

The "Doubtful Writings 

The Rule of the Order of Penitents 104 

Letters to Brother Elias I and II 115 

Letter to Jacqueline of Settesoli 116 

Letter to St Antony 117 

The Canticle of the Sun 118 

The Canticle of the Furnace 120 

The Canticle of Love 122 

A Prayer in Time of Sickness 130 

The Testament written in April, 1226 130 



viij The Contents 

The Jppendix 

The Rule of the Poor Ladies 131 

A Prayer for Poverty 139 

The Chapter on Perfect Joy 141 

Fragments from Jacques de Vitry 144 



Father d'Alengon's Introduction 

IT seems necessary to give some information 
as to the documents comprised in the minor 
works of St Francis of Assisi. We shall speak: 

I. Of the Wadding- edition, and of several 
unauthenticated works; 
II. Of authentic works; 

III. Of doubtful writings; 

IV. Of somedocumentsgivenin the Appendix. 

I. Concerning the Wadding Edition. 

THIS celebrated edition consists of three 
parts: i. Letters, Prayers and the Testa- 
ment; 2. the Rule; 3. the Conferences, the office of 
the Passion and the Canticles, followed by apoph- 
thegms, colloquies, prophecies, etc. It is a 
complete revelation of the mind of St Francis. 
But side by side with authentic works the editor 
has given extracts from different writings. For 
example, in chapter viii of the Legenda Major, 
n. 1, page 80 (Quaracchi edition) St Bonaventura 
writes: "Istius miserationis officium Patri 
misericordiarum omni sacrificio firmabat acce- 
ptius." Wadding expresses the same meaning 
but in an absolute form: "The office of preach- 
ing is more acceptable to the Father of Mercies 
than all sacrifice" (Wadding, Opuscula, page 

329)- 

I have therefore avoided inserting anything 
which both in expression and meaning is not 
truly the work of St Francis. 

Some of the works are not found in the manu- 
scripts, as, for instance, the Sermons, or are 



x The Writings of St Francis 

only to be met with in the Speculum or the 
Aclus. Some of them are reproduced in the 
Appendix. 

The Collationes given by Wadding are more 
than doubtful. Many of them were translated 
from an Italian MS. at Fano in the Marches.* 

But it is important to know the age of this 
MS. The author has apparently given nothing 
but extracts from Celano, the Speculum, the 
Three Companions and St Bonaventura. There- 
fore they should be restored to these works. 
Thus the Collatio Prima, page 286, is given as 
taken from the Legenda Major; in fact only the 
first six lines come from it. The Collatio Quinta 
is a mixture from Bonaventura and Celano; the 
Collatio XIV 'is simply taken from the Legenda 
Major. 

The Sermons. Wadding (pages 508 and s.) has 
given seven, but he doubts their authenticity, 
and with reason, for they are by a Father Lewis 
Rebolledo (cf. ib.) We do not, therefore, look 
upon them as authentic. Yet the following pas- 
sage from Thomas of Spalato cannot be read 
without interest. 

"I, Thomas, citizen of Spalato, Archdeacon 
of the cathedral church of the same town, as I 
was studying at Bologna, in 1220, heard St 
Francis preach on the Little Senate Piazza on 
the feast of the Assumption of the Mother of 
God. Nearly the whole town was assembled 
there. The sermon began with these words: 
'Angels, men and devils.' He spoke so well 
and so clearly of the spirits that many of the 
learned hearers, scholars and men of letters who 

* Codiculus quidam vetustus MS. Italico idiomati 
exaratus mihi a Fano Piceni urbe, ad Metanrum amnem 
extrufta, transmissus. — Wadding, Opusc, page 285. 



Fr d'Alen^on's Introduction xj 

were there greatly admired the sermon of this 
simple man. He did not express himself after 
the manner of preachers, but as in ordinary 
speech; he spoke without emphasis, without 
brilliant eloquence and without constantly 
bringing in the words of the Gospel. His whole 
strength, all the force of his words were di- 
rected to one end — to put a stop to hatred, to 
restore peace. His clothing was poor and neg- 
lected, his person meagre, and his face not re- 
markable. But God gave so much efficacy to his 
words, and put such alluring power into his 
prayer, that he restored peace, concord and 
friendship to several parties of the nobility who 
before were mortal enemies and the cause of 
great misfortune to the whole republic. So much 
was he loved and venerated that men and wo- 
men would crowd around him, and whoever 
could touch the hem of his habit or tear a piece 
from it was considered most blessed."* 

Celano in his first Legend (page 23, Rosedale 
edition), gives similar details. 

Letter to St Anthony, A little note is given as 
being by St Francis: " Brother Anthony, we 
grant thee permission to build a church of the 
Order near the walls of Patti. Given at Sarni." 

Not only is this an unlikely text, but the letter 
calls forth enormous historical difficulties.! 

Liber de intentione Regulce et Verba sanEli P. 
Francisci. These two little works were pub- 
lished under the name of Brother Leo by Father 

* According to Wadding-, Opuscula, p. 50, who con- 
sulted a MS. of the church of Spalato, and according* to 
the Monum. Germ. Hist, xix, 580. Sabatier translated this 
in his Vie de Si-Fratifois. 

tCf. ittudes franciscaines, Pere £douard d'Alen^on, 
t. xii, 1904, p. 361; and Lepitre, 5. Antoine de Padoue, 
1901, p. 120, note. 



xij The Writings of St Francis 

Lemmens in 1901.* One cannot help suspecting 
the authenticity of these writings, they have a 
strong polemical turn. If Brother Leo is indeed 
the author, a very doubtful matter, and if we 
have complete writings without interpolation, 
one may well ask oneself what truly was Brother 
Leo's character, and what was the physiognomy 
of St Francis himself. Moreover, these works 
contain little that is not found, together with 
much that is more characteristic, in the Vita 
Prima of Celano. 

We conclude, therefore, that these two writ- 
ings are more than doubtful, besides they are 
given as by Brother Leo and not by St Francis 
himself. 

II. Of the Authentic Works. 

THE two Rules of the Friars Minor. The Rule 
of the Friars Minor was written three times: 
in 1209, in 1210-1221 and in 1223. The first of the 
Rules of which we possess the text dates from 
between 12 10 and 1221. 

St Francis, after his conversion, renounced his 
paternal inheritance. Followers grouped them- 
selves round him; he found it necessary to give 
them a Rule or form of life. The holy Gospel 
afforded them daily spiritual nourishment; from 
it he drew the substance to form his Rule. "My 
brothers," said he to his companions, "I see 
that God has been pleased to increase our num- 
ber. Let us then go to our Holy Roman Church 
and report what God has already wrought by 
our means, in order that we may continue, ac- 
cording to its will and under its orders, the work 
wehavebegun."f To this end he betookhimself to 
* Docum. Ant. Francis, parti, Rome, in 1 6° from a Roman 
MS. 1-73 of the archives of St Isidore, fol. 19 v°-26 r°. 
t Tres Socii, c. iv, n. 46. 



Fr d'Alengon's Introduction xiij 

Pope Innocent III, who, although full of goodwill 
towards the friars, did not immediately give his 
sanction to their manner of life. Cardinal John ot 
Saint Paul persuaded him to do so: "If we re- 
fuse," said he, "astoo severe and too uncommon, 
the request of this poor man who asks permission 
to live according to the Gospel, let us beware 
lest we set ourselves against the Gospel itself; 
to hold that the complete observance of the 
Gospel contains anything novel, unreasonable 
or impracticable is to blaspheme Jesus Christ, 
the Author of the Gospel."* 

The Pope hastened to grant the favour im- 
plored, blessed the brothers, openly approved 
their Rule of life and permitted them everywhere 
to preach repentance. 

This text of 1209 is lost.t There is a second 
text, written, modified and enlarged between the 
years 1 2 10- 1 221. This second text forms the first 
of the two we give below. 

Later, on November 29, 1223, a third Rule 
was drawn up for the written approbation of the 
Court of Rome. At the present day Franciscans 
of the first Order, Conventuals, Monks, Minors 
or Capuchins, observe this last Rule. 

* Cf. Bonaventura, Legenda Nova, ill. 

fBoehmer has tried to restore some lines (Analekten, 
p. 27. Cf. 2 Cel., in, no, and Speculum, c. 4, nn. 42, 44): 
"I beg all my brothers never in sickness to murmur nor 
to rebel against God or the other brothers; let them not 
be too anxious to find remedies, let them not seek with 
too great eagerness to relieve this flesh, which is the 
enemy of the soul and must soon die; but let them in 
everything give thanks and desire to live as God wills. 
Those indeed whom God predestines for eternal life He 
instructs and spurs on through tribulation and trial, ac- 
cording to His word, 'Such as I love, I rebuke and 
chastise' " (Apoc. ii, 19. Cf. Boehmer, p. 55; and below, 
p. 11). 



xiv The Writings of St Francis 

For the two translations I have entirely fol- 
lowed Quaracchi. This edition gives the text of 
our second Rule according to the original Bull. 
A photograph of it is reproduced in Saint-Fran- 
cois d' Assise in the Plon Library (1885). On this 
subject cf. Karl Miiller, Die Anfange des Mino- 
ritenordens, Fribourg, 1885. On the original 
first Rule dating from 1209 and verbally ap- 
proved of by Innocent III (S. Bon., Leg. S. Fr., 
c. in, n. 8-10, Quaracchi edition) but which no 
longer exists, see Miiller, p. 189, who has given 
the text of the Rule 1210-1221, according to the 
Firmam. Trium Ord. p. 4, n. 1. 

The Testament. I do not think any other 
writing so truly reveals the mind of St Francis. 
In this last testament the saint lays bare his 
heart, his whole soul, his innermost being. He 
who had received the holy Stigmata at Alvernia 
wrote it at the end of his life, and it was wit- 
nessed by Celano, his friend Ugolino and St 
Bonaventura. I have made my translation from 
the Latin MS. 2477, fol. 89 v°, 90 v° — in the 
National Library, Paris, and from MS. 338 of 
the archives of the Sacro Convento published 
by Sabatier (Colleftion, t. 1, pp. 309-313). 

Fragments addressed to St Clare. "When the 
Most High Celestial Father graciously deigned 
to illuminate my heart," St Clare tells us in chap- 
ter vi of her Rule, u and caused me to repent on 
the advice and after the example of our blessed 
father, St Francis, a short time after his conver- 
sion, I and my sisters willingly promised him 
obedience. And seeing that we did not in the 
least fear poverty, labour, persecution, humility 
or the scorn of the age, but rather looked upon 
them with delight, the most blessed father, full 
of compassion, wrote for us a little rule of life " 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xv 

{Seraph, legist. Text. Orig. y Quaracchi, p. 62). 
It is the first fragment translated here; the same 
rule gives the second fragment. The Fathers of 
Quaracchi edited it according to the original 
Bull (August 9, 1253). Wadding knew both and 
took them for letters addressed to the holy ab- 
bess of St Damian (Letters iv and v). 

The Adnwtiitions. It is not known when they 
were composed; but they are surely by St Fran- 
cis. From the thirteenth century they are given 
as such in the MS. in the Laurentian Library, at 
Florence, cod. x, Plut. xix, dextr. fol. 448. I re- 
vised my translation from a MS. of the fifteenth 
century in the National Library, Paris, lat. 18, 
327, fol. 154. 

Letter to all Christians. The Latin text, trans- 
lated here from the Quaracchi edition, was re- 
vised from MSS. 989, fol. 193 r°, and 1,743, f°l- 
137 v°, Mazarin Library. Wadding made two 
epistles out of this letter. M. Sabatier in his 
Bartholin p. 132, has edited a part from a MS. 
of the fourteenth century, believing it to be a new 
and complete writing. 

Itis sometimes given under the form of a letter, 
sometimes as an " opusculum " or little treatise. 

Letter to the General Chapter. Out of this let- 
ter Wadding made three, which in his collection 
are nos. x, xi and xii. Bartholomew of Pisa, 
however, (Con/. Fr. xii, p. 11, no. 47) and be- 
fore him Uberto of Casal (Arbor Vitce, lib. v, c. 
vii, fol. 224 v°) edited it correctly. This letter 
brings us to the end of the life of St Francis. It 
reveals to us the saint's humility and his attach- 
ment to the Church of Rome, and one wonders, 
after reading such a document, how so-calle d 
historians can have seen in its author an ances- 
tor of Protestantism. 



xvj The Writings of St Francis 

Letter to a Minister. If one can trust the Ita- 
lian versions of this epistle, it is addressed to 
Brother Elias. Before Quaracchi and Boehmer, 
it was published by Paul Sabatier (Bartholi, 
pp. 1 1 3-1 15) and by Father Edouard d'Alencon 
(Epistolam S. Francisci. . . Rome, 1899, i8mo). 
I have made my translation from these editions. 
As for the doubtful passage', ' ' Et in hoc dilige eos, 
et non velis quod sint meliores Chris Hani, el istud 
sit tibi plus quammeritormm" I prefer that of MS. 
338 of Assisi, followed by Quaracchi. It was the 
version already given by Bartholomew of Pisa 
(Conform., fol. 132 v°, col. 2). It does not seem 
at all evident that by ''Christian" St Francis 
here means lepers, and that consequently this 
word may be translated: "And do not seek to 
make lepers better." According to the Fathers 
of Quaracchi this letter would seem rather to be 
addressed to a Provincial Minister than to a 
General, because of the last paragraph. Its date 
is without doubt 1223, and before June 11. The 
text, indeed, alludes to chapter x of the new Rule 
approved of in the following November by the 
Pope and subsequently discussed at the Chapter 
of the Portiuncula on June 11 (Spec. Perf, c. i) 
and he treats the same subject as a thing not 
definitely settled, except in the mind of the 
founder. 

Wadding (Opusc, p. 25, n. 1) thinks that the 
letter was addressed to Peter of Catana. Cf. 
Speculum, Metz, 1509, fol. 218 v°. 

Letter to the Heads of the Nations. This is given 
on the testimony of Francis of Gonzaga, General 
of the Order. This author published his De Ori- 
gine Seraph. Relig., in 1587, and in this book he 
mentioned that the B. John Parent brought a 
copy of this letter from Spain. Wadding edited 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xvij 

it (Ep. xv), and it is here translated from the 1623 
edition. Boehmergives it as of doubtful authority. 

Letter to Priests on the Holy Sacrament. This is 
Wadding's Letter xiii. It may strictly be con- 
sidered as an opusculum; but the absence of a 
superscription in the MSS. now recognized may 
be explained by an omission. Monsignor Faloci 
published it in his Miscellanea Francescana, t. vi, 
p. 95, according to the Assisi MS. 338. I revised 
it for the present translation from MS. 1743, fol. 
142 r°, Mazarin Library. I am rather inclined, 
with M. Sabatier, to see in it a kind of postscript 
to the Epistle to the General Chapter and all the 
friars. 

Wadding, from Mariano of Florence, heads 
this letter with the following words: "To my 
spiritual lords in Christ, to all priests in the 
world who live according to the rules of the 
Catholic Faith, Brother Francis, their lowest 
and meanest servant, sends salutation with the 
greatest respect and reverence. As I am every 
one's debtor and cannot, because of my infirmi- 
ties, personally give you satisfaction, receive 
with all love and charity this remembrance of 
me and this briefly written exhortation." Wad- 
ding adds at the end (p. 45): "May our Lord 
Jesus Christ comfort all my masters and fill 
them with His holy grace." 

Letter to the Guardians (I). Wadding was 
only acquainted with this in an indirect and in- 
complete way (Ep. xiv). Paul Sabatier published 
it in his Bartholi Traclatus, p. 135, from a MS. 
of the fourteenth century in the Guarnacci Li- 
brary at Volterra. The word ■ ■ custos " must here, 
as elsewhere, we think, be translated by "guar- 
dian." Cf. Wadding, Opusc, p. 27, note 1 and 
p. 55, note 1. 



xviij The Writings of St Francis 

Letter to all the Guardians (II). We have this 
letter on Wadding's authority alone, from a 
Spanish version. But as it agrees wonderfully 
with the other letters and as it is indisputably 
full of the spirit of St Francis, there is no reason 
to suspect the credulity of the old annalist. In 
his time it was affirmed in Spain that this letter 
had been there since the lifetime of the B. John 
Parent (Opnsc, p. 54). 

Letter to Brother Leo. This autograph is very 
carefully preserved at Spoleto, where Leo XIII 
had it reissued. Wadding (Ep. xvi), Monsignor 
Faloci [Misc. Fr., t. vi, p. 39) and Quaracchi 
published the letter according to the original. 
I must say that I found no difficulty whatever 
in translating the superscription: " F. Leo, F. 
Francisco tuo salutem et pacem." It is quite clear 
that, according to custom, greeting is sent 
from the writer to the person addressed. But in 
this instance the humility of St Francis makes 
him reverse this order, and beg of his dear and 
well-loved little sheep of the good God those 
blessings of which he feels in need. As to the 
inaccuracy of the Latin, a plural put for a 
singular, it may be accounted for by identifying 
this letter with one written at Bologna of which 
Eccleston speaks (Monum. Germ. Script., torn. 1, 
page 563, and Analecla Francisca?ia, torn. 1, 
page 232, note 4), and consequently I would 
willingly fix the date 1220 for this exquisite 
fragment (cf. Sabatier, Spec. Perf. y page 
lxxiii, etc.). The contents of the letter lead one 
to suppose that Brother Leo was not yet regu- 
larly with St Francis, as he certainly was after 
1220, (cf. id., page lxiv, note 3; andCelano, ed. 
Edouard d'Alencon, page xiv, note 3). 

Concerning the Religious dwelling in Hernii- 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xix 

tages. This fragment is useful for the better 
understanding of the origin of the Franciscan 
movement. In the beginning, the brothers, few 
in number, had no permanent domicile; they 
dwelt either in leper-houses or in little temporary 
dwellings on the outskirts of the towns. (Sabatier, 
Spec. Per/., pp. 25, 26; Reg. Mm. of 12 10, c. vii). 
The need of an asylum, in which they could 
the more freely give themselves up to a regular 
contemplative life, by degrees gave rise to the 
hermitage. It was for these houses, these loci, 
that St Francis made this little Rule. The 
increase in the number of the brothers, the 
desire to have a chapel of their own, the ex- 
ample given by the basilica of Assisi, developed 
this movement, and they soon had convents 
properly so-called. It must be observed that 
St Francis never used the word conventas, but 
the word locus, to designate the abode of the 
brothers (cf. particularly chapter vi of the 
Regula II Minorum). At the same time I think 
that in his mind the word cuslos was always 
equivalent to guardiamis (cf. Opuscula, Quarac- 
chi, page 109 and no). Honorius III sent his 
Bull Cu7ii secundum consilium (Sept. 1220) pri- 
oribus sen custodibus Fratrum Minorum. 

This little work was given by Wadding as 
the third conference. Father Van Ortroy doubts 
if it is authentic [Anal. Bolland., xxiv, 413). 

Little Letter to Brother Leo; or, Praises of God. 
In this we have the precious possession ot a 
holograph of St Francis. This relic is preserved 
in the Sacro Convento of Assisi. Celano men- 
tioned it as recreabile scriptum (2 Cel. ii, 17), 
and it was at Alverna and adorned with the 
holy Stigmata that the saint wrote these Lauds. 
Can one doubt that they are cries drawn from 



xx The Writings of St Francis 

the heart of a seraph for the love of God? The 
greatest scholars have studied this relic: Paul 
Sabatier (Spec. Per/., page lxvii), Monsignor 
Faloci Pulignagni (Tre Autog. di S. Fr. S. Mar. 
degli Angeli), and Father Edouard d'Alencon 
(La Benediction de S. Fr., 1896, with three 
prints). 

Prayer " God Almighty.'' 'This prayer/ 'Omni- 
potens, ceterne . . ." is in the MSS. usually added 
to the letter to the General Chapter, either at 
the beginning or the end, as in MS. 1, 743, 
Mazarin Library. It is doubtful whether it ever 
actually formed part of this letter, and I place it 
here after the letter to Brother Leo, as Wadding 
did, p. 101. 

Lauds. These are composed of two parts: an 
explanation of the Pater noster and the Lauds 
properly so called. The manuscripts (Quaracchi, 
Opuscula, p. 196) give all as by St Francis. 
However, a text of the fourteenth century (MS. 
1/73 of St Isidore, Rome, fol. 10 v°) attributes 
the exposition of the " Lord's Prayer" to Brother 
Giles of Assisi. The Conformities (edition 15 10, 
fol. 138) give all as by the Seraphic Father. 
Chapter lxxxii of the Spec. Perf. (Sabatier) also 
seems in favour of the complete authenticity of 
the Praises. 

The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
This is of the same authenticity as the explana- 
tion of the Pater noster. It is in the first book or 
Conformities, XII, 5. Wadding transcribed it 
from an Irish MS. carried to Salamanca (Opusc. 
page 105). All recent authors agree that it is 
genuine: Quaracchi, page 197; Boehmer, page 
xxvii; Sabatier, Opnisc. Crit. Hist., 11, 134, ex- 
cept Goetz, pages 47, 56. 

The Salutation of the Virtues. Celano (2 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xxj 

Celano, in, 119) vouches for the authenticity of 
this. I revised it from MS. 1743, f°l- *4 2 v ° m 
the Mazarin Library, but no title is given to it. 
In MS. 338 Assisi, which is older and given by 
Wadding, the salutation of the Virtues is pre- 
ceded by this rubric: De virtutibus qaibas deco- 
rata fuit sancla Virgo Maria, et debet esse sancla 
anima. This title is quite in accordance with this 
and the preceding fragment. 

The Prayer " Absorbeat" to obtain Love. The 
authenticity of this prayer, accepted by the 
Quaracchi Fathers, but doubted by Boehmer, 
rests on the double testimony of St Bernard of 
Siena {Opera Omnia, 11, sermo 60, art. ii, 
chapter 11) and of Uberto of Casale {Arbor 
V T itcB, v, chapter iv). 

The Office of the Passion. — Through Celano 
{Leg. S. Clarce in Acl. Sanely torn. 11, August, 
page 761) we learn that St Francis composed an 
Office of the Passion, Officinm Cmcis. It is divi- 
ded into five parts : 

{a) For the three last days of Holy Week and 
the vigils during the year. 

{b) For the Paschal Season. 

(c) For Sundays and festivals throughout the 
year. 

(d) For Advent. 

{e) For the feast of Christmas and the days 
following until the end of the octave of the 
Epiphany. 

We translate it from the triple Latin edition 
of Wadding, Quaracchi and Boehmer. 



xxij The Writings of St Francis 

III. On the Doubtful Writings. 

THE Rule of the Third Order. I translate this 
document according to the text edited by 
Sabatier in torn, i of the Opusc. de Crit. Hist., 
page 17, and by Boehmer in his Analekten. This 
text, discovered by Paul Sabatier, may be found in 
MS. XX, Convent of Capistrano in the Abruzzi. 
It dates at least from 1228. The study which 
Father Mandonnet {Opusc., pages 143-245) gave 
to it would seem to show that it dates even from 
1 22 1, at least all comprised in the first twelve 
chapters. His best argument is that which points 
out, on page 177, the existence of a MS. giving 
the Rule as written in 1221. I confess, however, 
to great perplexity in spite of my desire to arrive 
at the same conclusion. Section 4 of chapter vi 
(Boehmer edition) alludes very clearly to a Bull 
of March 30, 1228 [Bull. Franc. 1, 39), and I 
cannot trace an interpolation in this passage. 
The mention of pence and halfpence of Ravenna 
is inexplicable from the pen of an Umbrian 
author. 

In all probability that is the first document of 
the history of the Third Order, and it clearly 
reflects the social ideal of the firs* members of 
the fraternity of penance. 

Two Letters to Brother Elias. These are given 
by Wadding [Epist. vi and vii). This author 
took the first from Book 11 of Ridolfi (Hist. 
Seraph.)] the second he transcribed in Latin from 
a Spanish text of Rebolledo, Chroniques, part 1, 
chapter xxvii, and though he places it with 
the authentic writings, he is the first to recog- 
nize its doubtful character. Goetz (page 55) is 
not of this opinion. This German critic gives as 
corrupt or doubtful (unecht und zweifelhaft) 
Wadding's letter vi (cf. Goetz, pages 33-41). 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xxiij 

The difficulty in question is to discover the 
source from which Ridolfi drew it. Letter vi 
and a part of Letter vii are perhaps but repe- 
titions of the Letter to a Minister. 

Upon Elias of Cortona, cf. Iren. Affo. Vita 
difr. Elia, Parma, 1819, and Lempp, Frere £lie 
de Cortone. 

The Letter to Dame Jacqueline. This is taken 
from chapter xviii of the Aclus (Sabatier edi- 
tion, page 63). Cf. Speculum Perfeclionis , chap- 
ter cxii, by the same author. Father Edouard 
d'Alencon was the first to introduce us to this 
friend of St Francis in Etudes fra?iciscaines , 
tome 11, pages 2-20 and 225-239. The letter 
translated here seems somewhat doubtful in its 
form. And I also observe that the Speculum does 
not give the text of this letter (cf. Etudes fran- 
ciscaines, ib. pages 225, note 2; and 16, note 3). 
This is what Celano says about the fortunate re- 
ceiver of this letter: "Jacqueline of Settesoli, 
one of the principal ladies of the town of Rome, 
had, through her saintliness and nobility, gained 
the favour of a special friendship with the saint." 
And continuing, the historian mentions the great- 
ness of her house, the rank of her family, her great 
riches, and in a word the admirable perfection ot 
her virtues through along and austere widowhood 
(Tr. de Miracidis, in Anal. Bollan. tome xviii). 
We learn from Celano that Francis wrote a 
letter to Jacqueline. The Aclus which give the 
text of this letter are by Father Ugolino of 
Monte Giorgo; they were probably written be- 
tween 1322 and 1328. 

The Letter to St Anthony. The form at least is 
doubtful. It is first given in the Liber Miracido- 
rum (edition of the Acla Sanclorum, no. 20) and 
by the chronicles of the XXIV Chapters-General, 



xxiv The Writings of St Francis 

AnaL franc, III, 132. M. Lepitre, who is an au- 
thority on the history of St Anthony, does not 
vouch for the authenticity of this letter {S. Ant. 
de P., page 73). It is given in different ways. 
We know from Celano that Francis once wrote 
to Anthony with this superscription, " Fratri 
Antonio episcopo meo," To Brother Anthony my 
bishop" (2 Cel., in, 99). Goetz, who thinks it 
genuine, dates it between 1222 and the end of 
1225 {Die Quellen, page 20). 

The Canticle of the Sun. Boehmer and Goetz 
accept this as genuine. The Quaracchi Fathers 
only make slight allusion to it in a note (page ix). 
St Francis indeed composed a canticle, often 
mentioned as Landes Creaturarum. Celano al- 
ludes to it (2 Cel. in, 138, 139), and the Speculum 
Perfeclionis gives the text. The translation to be 
found here is from Ozanam. I revised it from the 
different readings given by M. Sabatier in his 
first volume of Colleclion de Documents, pages 
284-289. 

Two of the last strophes were composed, one 
after the saint had reconciled the town of Assisi 
with its bishop, the other when the approach of 
his death was revealed to him. 

The Book of the Conformities, 15 10 edi- 
tion, fol. 203 V°, and the MS. 338 of 
Assisi, fol. 22-23 (fourteenth century) have like- 
wise preserved this text. Photographs of the 
pages of the Assisi MS. are found in the Archiv. 
paleo. ital., t. 1. plates 77-79 (cf. Misc. franc, 
vol. vi [1895], fasc. 2). 

T/ie Canticles of the Furnace and of Love. — 
These two canticles are given by St Bernardine 
of Siena as being by St Francis of Assisi {Opera 
omnia, torn, iv, sermo 16 and 41). The second 
canticle is also attributed to Jacopone di Todi, 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xxv 

and it is highly probable that the two canticles 
are by the same author, who died in 1306. That 
the poet merely paraphrased Franciscan ideas 
we may reasonably believe. Moreover, the first 
canticle is of simple, naive, inexperienced work- 
manship — the infancy of poetry; the second 
shews greater skill. 

Whether by Francis of Assisi or by Jacopone 
of Todi it matters little that we place these two 
masterpieces in the rank of doubtful writings. 
Cf. Ozanam, Les Poetes Franciscains en Italie, 
page 91, and Amoni, Trium Soc, pages 165, 
166, and Miscell. Franc. , 1888, pages 96 and 190. 

Prayer in time of Sickness. St Bonaventura has 
preserved this prayer in his Legenda Major, 
chapter xiv, note 2. The style is doubtful, but 
the matter is true. The Seraphic Father must 
have had such accents of love on his lips during 
the last two years of his life. Was this prayer 
among those used by the saint? Or was it but 
one of those numberless ecstasies of love which 
in his life he was constantly outpouring? This 
the Seraphic Doctor does not tell us. 

The Testament of April, 1226. We have this 
text from the Speculum Perfecl. (chapter lxxxvii, 
Sabatier edition; and note 30, Lemmens edition). 
It must have been dictated to a friar, otherwise 
unknown, the priest Benedict of Prato. 

IV. Concerning some Documents given in the 
Appendix. 

THE Rule of the Poor Clares. The form of life 
drawn up by St Francis (cf. page 101) for St 
Clare, contains only a few lines. The Seraphic 
Father did not wish his Order to be under the 
canonical superintendence of the Poor Ladies 
nor to be indebted to them for sustenance. He 



xxvj The Writings of St Francis 

never took charge of any except those of St 
Damian, and he did not like to see his friars 
busying themselves about the Minorites. Cardi- 
nal Ugolino drew up the first Rule for these 
nuns (Bulls Cum omnis vera of May 24, 1229 in 
Bull. Franc. , 1, 263 and, Solet annuere of Novem- 
ber 13, 1245; ib. 1,394). These constitutions were 
settled from 12 18-12 19 (cf. Bull. Fr. } I, II and 
13; Letters Prudentibus Virginibus, Ann. Min., 
1, 312; Gubernatis, Orb. Seraph., 11, 603, and 
Bull Fr. y 1, 4, note a). They were observed 
until 1247. That year St Clare could not decide 
to give up her cherished poverty and adopt the 
privilege granted by Innocent IV. Six years later, 
Cardinal Raynaldo of Segni, patron of the Or- 
der, sanctioned her wish for strict poverty (Ann. 
Min., in, 287) and the Pope did the same on 
August 9, 1253. I translated the text from this 
Bull Solet annuere of August 9, 1253 (Bull Fr. , 1, 
167). Cf. Lemmens, Die Anfdnge des Clarissen- 
ordens in Romische Quartalschr., xvi, 93, etc. 

The Prayer for Poverty. This prayer, which 
every devout novice of the Order recites and 
which every one knows, is not by St Francis. 
First known through Uberto of Casale, it now 
holds a civil position, and since the addition of 
Father Edouard d'Alencon we know that it is a 
fragment of a poetical work, the Sacrum com- 
?7ierciu7?i S. Francisci cum do??iina Paupertate, a 
composition dated from 1227. Its author is not 
known, but might, nevertheless, be John Parent 
or St Anthony of Padua. In any case it is a 
masterpiece and a gem of Franciscan literature 
(Cf. S. Bon., Leg. major, c. vii). 

Perfect Joy. This piece was inserted by Wad- 
ding (page 93). It is, perhaps, only a develop- 
ment of the fifth admonition in his volume 



Fr d'Alencon's Introduction xxvij 

(page 73). It is in reality a chapter of the Actus 
or Fioretti. This delightful fragment with its true 
Franciscan savour dates from the fourteenth 
century. In it is the same animation, the same 
enthusiasm, as in the thirteenth chapter of the 
first Epistle to the Corinthians, and St Francis 
would not disown the language the simple chro- 
nicler lends him. The present translation was 
made from M. Sabatier's edition of the Actus, 
page 34-27. Cf. Wadding, Ann. Mm., 1221, 
n. 30. 

Fragments of Jacques de Vitry. These frag- 
ments were published by Boehmer, Anal, zur 
Gesch. des Fr. von Assist) page 94. They give 
the testimony of an eyewitness. Details of the 
private life have escaped this spectator from with- 
out, but he alone gives us the strong and vivid 
impression which people must have experienced 
at sight of the growing Order of the Friars 
Minor. On this account the text of Jacques de 
Vitry deserves to be made known. Cf. Sabatier, 
Speculum Perfect. , page 295. 



THE WRITINGS 
OF ST FRANCIS 

The Rule of the Friars Minor from 
the Text of 1210-1221 

IN the Name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. 

This is the rule of life which Brother Francis 
begged the Holy Father Innocent to grant and 
sanction. And the Pope blessed and confirmed 
it to him and his friars for ever.* 

That Brother Francis and all who shall be at 
the head of this Order promise reverence and 
obedience to the Holy Pope Innocent and his 
successors. And that the other brothers shall be 
boundtoobey Brother Francis and his successors. 
I. That the Friars shall live in obedience and 
Chastity and without Earthly Goods. 

THE rule and life of these friars is the fol- 
lowing: to live in obedience and chastity 
and without property, and to follow the example 
and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
says: " If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou 
hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have 
treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. "t 
And again: "If any man will come after Me, let 
him deny himself, and take up his cross and 
* In order to understand this paragraph, which must 
have been altered or re-written when the approbation 
was granted, refer above to page xii. This rule of 1210- 
122 1 is generally called the First Rule. It is really the 
second. See the beginning of this rule in the Speculum of 
1504. fMatt. xix, 21. 

I 



2 The Writings of St Francis 

follow Me."* And: u If any man come to Me 
and hate not his father and mother and wife 
and children and brethren and sisters, yea, and 
his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."! 
"And everyone that hath left father or mother, 
brothers or sisters, or wife, or children or lands, 
for My sake, shall receive an hundredfold and 
shall possess life everlasting. "J 

II. Concerning the Reception and the Habit of 
the Friars. 

IF anyone through Divine inspiration desires 
to lead this life and comes to our friars, let 
him be received by them with kindness. If he 
persists in wishing to take up our life, let the 
friars be very careful not to meddle with his 
temporal affairs, and let them present him to 
their minister as soon as possible. And let the 
minister receive him with charity, and encourage 
him and explain to him with great care the 
manner of our life. That being done, the pos- 
tulant, if he is willing and can do so honourably 
and without difficulty, must sell all his goods 
and distribute them among the poor. But the 
friars and the ministers of the friars must ever 
be on their guard against meddling in any way 
with these affairs, they must never receive any 
money either for themselves or for any inter- 
mediate person. If, however, they are in need, 
the friars may assuredly, like other poor people, 
receive things necessary for the body, but no 
money. When the postulant has returned, let 
the minister give him the habit of probation for 
one year, that is to say, two tunics without 
hood, girdle, breeches and cape reaching to the 
girdle. The year of probation having elapsed, 
* Matt, xvi, 24. t Luke xiv, 26. +Matt. xix, 29. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 3 

he may be received into obedience. After this 
he cannot change into another Order nor exempt 
himself from obedience according to the com- 
mand of the Holy Father.* For according to 
the Gospel: "No man putting his hand to the 
plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom 
of God. "f But if some one comes who cannot 
give away his goods without difficulty, but has 
the spiritual will to relinquish them, it shall 
suffice. That no man shall be received contrary 
to the form prescribed by Holy Church. 

The other friars who have promised obedience, 
shall have a tunic with a hood and another 
without, if necessary, and the girdle and bree- 
ches. And all the brothers must be clad in 
poor garments which they can patch with bits 
of the same or other pieces, with the blessing 
of God, for the Lord says in the Gospel: "They 
that are in costly apparel and live delicately 
and are clothed in soft garments are in the 
houses of kings."t 

And even if they should be called hypocrites, 
let them not cease therefore to be doing good; 
let them not seek rich garments in this world, 
in order that they may be clothed with glory in 
the kingdom of heaven. 

III. Concerning the Divine Office and Fasting. 

THE Lord says: This kind of demons " can 
go out by nothing but by prayer and fast- 
ing.'^ And again: "When you fast, be not as 
the hypocrites, sad."|| Therefore, let all the 
friars, clerks or lay-brothers, recite the Divine 
Office, lauds and prayers according to the pre- 
scribed form. Let the clerks say the office for 

* Bull Cum secundum Consilium of Honorius III, Sep- 
tember 22, 1220. Bull, franc, i, p. 6. 
t Luke ix, 62. + Luke vii, 25. § Mark ix, 28. || Matt, vi, 16. 

\a 



4 The Writings of St Francis 

the living and for the dead, as other clerks do; 
every day let them say the Miserere niei^ Detis 
and the Pater noster for the failings and negli- 
gences of the friars; for deceased friars let them 
say the De profundis and the Pater noster. And 
they may only possess the books necessary to 
perform their Office. Lay-brothers who know 
how to read may have a Psalter, the others who 
do not know how to read are to have no books. 
The lay-brothers shall say the Credo in Deum 
and twenty-four Pater-nosters and Gloria-Patris 
for Matins; five for Lauds, the Credo in Deum 
and seven Pater-nosters and Gloria-Patris for 
Prime; for Terce, Sextand None, seven for each 
and twelve for Vespers; the Credo in Deum and 
seven Pater-nosters and Gloria-Patris for Com- 
pline; seven Pater-nosters with the Requiem ceter- 
nam for the dead; and three Pater-nosters every 
day for the faults and negligences of the friars. 
Likewise all the friars shall fast from the 
feast of All Saints until the Nativity of the Lord, 
and from the Epiphany, the period at which the 
fasting of our Lord Jesus Christ began, until 
Easter. At other times they shall not be obliged 
to fast except on Fridays, according to the rule. 
And they may be allowed to eat of any food set 
before them, as is taught in the Gospel.* 

IV. Concerning the Ministers and other Friars, 
and their Subjection. 

IN the name of the Lord, let all the friars who are 
ministers and servants of the others, establish 
their friars in their own provinces and places 
and let them visit them frequently to encourage 
and give them spiritual advice. And let all my 
other blessed friars obey them diligently in all 
* Luke x, 8. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 5 

that concerns the eternal salvation of the soul, 
and is not contrary to our Rule. And let them 
mutually observe the Saviour's words: "All 
things, therefore, whatsoever you wouldthat men 
should do to you, do you also to them"; and, 
1 ' See thou neverdo to another what thou wouldst 
hate to have done to thee by another."* And let 
the ministers who are servants remember these 
words of the Saviour: "I am not come to be 
ministered unto, but to minister."! The souls of 
their friars have been entrusted to them, and if 
one of them through their fault or bad example 
is lost, they will have to give account before the 
Lord Jesus Christ at the Day of Judgement. 

V. On Correcting the Friars' Faults. 

WATCH diligently over your own souls and 
the souls of your friars, for it is fearful to 
fall into the hands of the living God.J If one of 
the ministers should give a friar an order con- 
trary to our Rule or to conscience, the friar is 
not bound to obey him, for there can be no ques- 
tion of obedience where there is fault or sin. 
Therefore, all the friars who are in subjection to 
the ministers or servants shall be on the watch 
to examine reasonably and diligently the conduct; 
of the ministers or servants. And if they see one 
of them walking carnally and not spiritually ac- 
cording to the perfection of our life, and if he 
does not amend after three admonitions, he must 
bedeposed from his office of minister and servant 
of the whole fraternity, without exception, at the 
Chapter meeting at Pentecost, in spite of any 
obstacle that may be in the way. If among the 
friars, wherever they may be, there is one who 

*Matt. vii, 12; Tobias iv, 16. f Matt, xx, 28. 
JHeb. x, 31. 



6 The Writings of St Francis 

wills to walk not according to the spirit but ac- 
cording to the flesh, let his companions, the 
other friars, warn him, reprove and reform him 
with care and humility. If he refuses to amend 
after the third admonition, the friars must report 
him to his minister or send him to him as soon 
as possible, which minister and servant shall do 
with him what he judges most fit in the sight of 
God. And let all the friars, ministers and servants 
and others take great care not to worry them- 
selves, nor to grow angry because of the sin or 
bad example of another, because the Devil 
through the sin of one tries to corrupt many 
others. But let them come spiritually to the aid 
of the guilty one, as well as they can, for "they 
that are in health need not a physician, but they 
that are ill."* 

Also the friars must not behave in an arrogant 
and domineering way, especially among them- 
selves, for the Lord says in the Gospel: "You 
know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over 
them: and they that are the greater exercise 
power upon them."f It must not be so among 
friars, and "he that is the greatest among you 
shall be your servant" and minister, and "he 
that is the greater among you, let him become 
as the younger."; 

No friar shall speak ill of or do harm to an- 
other; rather, in holy charity let them willingly 
serve and obey one another. This is the true and 
holy obedienceofourLoRD Jesus Christ. And let 
the friars who have erred from the ways of the 
Lord and rebelled against obedience know that, 
as the Prophet says, " they are cursed who de- 
cline from Thy commandments, " and so long as 

*Matt. ix, 12. t Matt, xx, 25. 

J Matt, xxiii, 11 ; Luke xxii, 26. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 7 

they knowingly remain in sin. But so long as 
they shall persevere in the law of the Lord, 
which they have promised to do by the Holy 
Gospel and their Rule, let them know that they 
are keeping in true obedience and have the bless- 
ing of the Lord. 

VI. Concerning the Appeal of the Friars to 
their Ministers and that no Brothermay be called 
Prior. 

IF the friars, in whatever place they are, 
cannot observe our life, let them betake them- 
selves as soon as possible to their minister and 
lay their difficulties before him. And let the 
minister study to appease them as he himself 
would wish in a similar case. And let no one be 
called Prior, but all alike shall take the name of 
Friars Minor. And let them wash one another's 
feet. 

VII. Concerning the Manner of Serving and 
Working. 

THAT no friar, in whatever place he may 
happen to be to serve and work in another's 
house, shall ever be chamberlain, cellarer or 
steward in the house in which he serves; he shall 
not undertake any employment likely to cause 
wonder or to bring harm to his soul; and let him 
be inferior and subject to all who are in the same 
house. 

And let the brothers who know how to work 
practise their former trade if it is not hurt- 
ful to the salvation of their soul and if they can 
conveniently do so. For the Prophet says: 
"Thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: bles- 
sed art thou, and it shall be well with thee."* 

* Psalm cxxvii, 2. 



8 The Writings of St Francis 

And the Apostle: "If any man will not work, 
neither let him eat."* And let each keep to the 
employment or trade to which he was called.! 
And for their work the brothers may receive the 
things needful, but no money. And if that should 
be necessary, let them go and beg alms like 
others. And they may have instruments and tools 
needful for their work. 

Let all the friars endeavour to labour at an 
occupation healthful to [the soul], for it is 
written: "Be always doing some good work 
that the devil may not find thee idle."! And 
again: "Idleness is the enemy of the soul."§ 
Therefore the servants of God must always be 
at prayer or employed in doing some good 
work. 

The friars must be on their guard, wherever 
they may be, in hermitages or other places, 
against appropriating any dwelling or driving 
another out. And they must receive with kind- 
ness whosoever shall come to them, be he friend 
or enemy, thief or robber. And wherever the 
friars may be, in what place soever, let them be 
diligent to respect and honour one another de- 
voutly and without murmuring. And the friars 
must take care not to be sad and dull like hypo- 
crites, but let them show themselves joyful in 
the Lord, with a cheerful face and be filled with 
engaging amiability. 

VIII. That the Friars may never receive Money. 

THE Saviour gives this precept in the Gos- 
pel: "Take heed and beware of all malice 
and avarice, and guard yourselves from the so- 
licitudes ofthisw T orld and the cares of this life. "|| 
* 2 Thess. Hi, 10. f i Cor. vii, 24. 

JSee St Jerome, ep. 125, n. 11. §See St Anselm, ep.49. 
|| Luke xii, 15; xi, 34. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 9 

Therefore no friar shall, in any place where he 
is staying- or passing- through, take, receive or 
even cause to be received coin or money or 
any kind, neither to buy clothes or books, nor 
as payment for work, nor on any occasion what- 
ever, except in the case of absolute necessity for 
sick brothers. We must not value or esteem 
money and coin more than stones. And the devil 
will blind the eyes of those who desire and ap- 
preciate money more than stones. Let us take 
care, we who have left everything, lest for so 
small a thing we lose the kingdom of heaven. 
And if in any place we should find pence, let us 
pay no more heed than to the dust we tread 
under our feet, for it is " vanity of vanities, all 
is vanity."* And if one day it should happen 
(which God forbid) that a friar should pick up 
and appropriate money or coin, except in the 
above-named case of necessity for the sick, let 
all the friars look upon him as a false brother, as 
a thief and a robber, as a possessor of goods, 
until he shall do penance. And that in no way 
shall friars receive or cause to be collected, seek 
or cause others to seek for alms or money for a 
house or place; and they shall never accompany 
persons who beg in this way. All other offices 
not contrary to the rule the friars may undertake 
with the blessing of God. Nevertheless, friars 
may beg alms for lepers in cases of absolute ne- 
cessity. But they must fear money greatly. Like- 
wise, all friars must shun searching the world 
for any filthy gain. 

*Eccl. i, 2. 



io The Writings of St Francis 

IX. On asking for Alms. 

LET all the friars study to follow the humi- 
lity and poverty of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Let them remember that we must have nothing 
else in the whole world except, db the Apostle 
says, food and wherewith to b^ covered, and 
with these be content.* And let them rejoice to 
be found in the midst of lowly and despised peo- 
ple, the poor and weak, the sick and leprous, 
the beggars on the road. And when it is neces- 
sary let them go for alms. And let them not think 
it shame, but remember rather that our Loud 
Jesus Christ, the Son of the living and all- 
powerful God, played the part of "a most hard 
rock"f and was not ashamed. He Himself, the 
ever Blessed Virgin and His disciples, lived on 
alms. And when men humiliate the friars and 
will not give them alms, let these thank God for 
this; for because of this shame they shall receive 
great honour at the tribunal of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. And let them know that this humiliation 
is to be imputed not to those who suffer it but 
to those who cause it, and alms are a heritage 
and right due to the poor, and gained by us 
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Friars who ob- 
tain them through their work will have great 
reward: they will procure benefits and blessings 
for those who give them; for all that men leave 
in the world shall perish; but for the charity and 
almsgiving they have done they will be recom- 
pensed by the Lord. 

And let the brothers mutually make known 
their needs in order to obtain and receive what 
is necessary. And let each love and nourish his 
brother as a mother loves and nourishes her 
child. God will give them grace for this. " Let 
*i Tim. vi, 8. flsa. 1, 7. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 1 1 

not him that eateth despise him thateateth not; 
and he that eateth not, let him not judge him 
that eateth."* And when necessity arises, all the 
friars, wherever they may be, shall be allowed 
to eat whatev.T other men may take, as the 
Lord said of David, who ate the loaves of pro- 
pitiation allowed only to the priests, t Let the 
friars remember the word of the Lord: "Take 
heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness 
and the cares of this life, and that day come 
upon ) ou suddenly, for as a snare shall it come 
upon all that dwell upon the face of the earth. n \ 
Likewise in times of manifest need let the 
brothers arrange for their wants as God shall 
inspire them, for necessity has no law. 

X. Concerning Sick Friars. 

IF, wherever he may be, one of the friars should 
fall sick, let not the other friars leave him 
without one or several friars, if necessary, to 
tend him as they would wish to be tended them- 
selves. Nevertheless, in case of absolute neces- 
sity they may entrust him to another person who 
will undertaketo care for him in his infirmity. And 
I pray the sick friar to give thanks to the Creator 
for everything. What the Lord wills, that must 
he will, in good health or bad; for God instructs 
through chastisements, sickness, trials and the 
grace of contrition all those whom He predes- 
tines to eternal life, for the Lord says: "Such 
as I love, I rebuke and chastise. "§ But if the sick 
one complains or grumbles against God or the 
friars, if he sometimes asks too eagerly for his 
remedies, seeking overmuch to cure his body 

*Rom. xiv, 3. fMark ii, 26. 

+ St Luke xxi, 34, 35. § Apoc. in, 19. 



1 2 The Writings of St Francis 

which is soon to die and is the enemy of the 
soul, it is a sign that he is prompted by evil and 
by the flesh, he is unworthy of being numbered 
with the friars, for he loves his body more than 
his soul. 

XI. That the Friars must not Swear nor Back- 
bite, but must Love one another. 

THE friars must take care not to slander 
anyone, not to contend in words, but let 
them rather diligently keep silence as long as 
God shall give them grace for it. Let them not 
dispute among themselves nor with others, but 
let them accustom themselves to reply with hu- 
mility:' 'We areunprofitable servants."* Let them 
not be angry, for "Whosoever is angry with his 
brother, shall be in danger of the judgement. And 
whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall 
be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall 
say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."f 
Let them love one another as the Lord bids: 
"This is My commandment, that you love one 
another as I have loved you. " And let them show 
by their deeds the charity they should (eel, for 
the Apostle says: "Let us not love in word, nor 
in tongue, but in deed and in truth."! Let them 
speak evil of no man, let them not murmur; let 
them not backbite, for it is written: "Whis- 
perers, detractors, " are "hateful to God." And 
let them be gentle, "shewing all mildness to- 
wards allmen."§ Letthemnotjudgeandcondemn, 
and as the Lord says: " Let them not consider 
the little sins of others, but let them rather, in 
the bitterness of their heart, think upon their 
own." Let them endeavour to enter in at the 

* Luke xvii, 10. t Matt, v, 22. + 1 John iii, 18. 
§ Titus iii, 2. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 13 

narrow gate, for the Lord says: "Narrow is the 
gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life; 
and few there are that find it ! "* 

XII. On Guilty Looks and on avoiding the Com- 
pany of Women. 

LET all the friars, wherever they may be and 
wherever they may go, avoid evil glances 
and the company of women, and no one shall 
talk alone with them. Let the priests speak suita- 
bly to them at the tribunal of penitence or in giving 
them spiritual advice. And no woman shall on 
any account make the vow of obedience to 
any friar, but, spiritual counsel being given to 
her, let her do penance wherever she will. 
And let us all watch well over ourselves, keep- 
ing our senses in purity, for the Lord says: 
"Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after 
her, hath already committed adultery with her 
in his heart, "t 

XIII. On the Punishment of Fornicators. 

IF a friar at the instigation of the devil com- 
mits fornication, let him be deprived of the 
habit of the Order, to which he no longer has 
any right after his shameful fault; let him be 
completely deposed and entirely cut off from the 
Order. And then let him do penance for his sins. 

XIV. How the Friars must go through the 
World. 

WHEN the friars go about the world, let 
them carry nothing on the way, " neither 
bag, nor scrip, nor bread, nor money, nor a 
staff"; and " into whatsoever house they enter," 
let them first say: "Peace be to this house"; 
and during their stay in the same house let them 
* Matt, vii, 14. t Matt, v, 28. 



H The Writings of St Francis 

eat and drink what is set before them.* Let them 
not " resist evil," but if they are struck on the 
" right cheek," let them turn the other also; and 
if their clothing and tunic are taken away, let 
them not resist. Let them give to all who ask. 
If what belongs to them is taken away, let them 
not reclaim it. t 

XV. That the Friars must possess no Animals, 
and that they must not Ride. 

I FORBID all my friars, clerks and lay, who 
go about the world or remain in their dwel- 
ling, to possess any animal either in their own or 
other people's houses, or in any other manner. 
And they are not allowed to ride on horseback 
except through infirmity or any great necessity. 

XVI. Concerning those who go among the Sara- 
cens and other Infidels. 

THE Lord says: " Behold, I send you as 
sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye there- 
fore wise as serpents and simple as doves. "+ 
Therefore all those friars who, by Divine inspi- 
ration, desire to go among the Saracens and 
other infidels, may do so with the permission of 
their minister and servant. And let the minister 
give them leave and not refuse them, provided 
he considers them fit to go, for he will have to 
render an account to the Lord, if he acts impru- 
dently in that or in any other matters. There are 
two ways in which the friars who set out may 
behave themselves worthily. The first is, never 
to dispute or quarrel, but " to be subject to every 
human creature for God's sake,"§ yet confessing 
themselves to be Christians. The second is, 
when they think it pleasing to God to announce 

* Luke ix, 39; x, 4-8. t Matt, v, 39; Luke vi, 29, 30. 
X Matt, x, 16. § 1 Peter ii, 13. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 1 5 

the Word of God, to preach the faith of the Al- 
mighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the 
universal Creator, the Saving and Redeeming 
Sox, to be baptized and made Christians, for 
" unless a man be born again of water and the 
Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom 
of God."* 

These thoughts and all others agreeable to 
God, are such as they must suggest to others, 
for the Lord says in the Gospel: " Everyone, 
therefore, that shall confess Me before men, I 
will also confess him before My Father who is in 
heaven" ; and " he that shall be ashamed of Me 
and of My words, of him the Son of Man shall 
be ashamed when He shall come in His Majesty, 
and that of His Father, and of the holy angels."! 

Let all the friars remember everywhere that 
they have given and relinquished themselves 
body and soul to our Lord Jesus Christ; for the 
love of Him they must expose themselves to all 
enemies, visible and invisible, for the Lord says: 
"He that shall lose his life for My sake shall 
save it"; "Blessed are they that suffer perse- 
cution for justice' sake, for theirs is the king- 
dom of heaven "; "If they have persecuted Me, 
they will also persecute you "; " And when they 
shall persecute you in one city, flee into an- 
other "; " Blessed are ye when they shall revile 
you, and persecute you, and when they shall 
separate you, and shall reproach you, cast out 
your name as evil and speak all that is evil 
against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad in 
that day and rejoice, for your reward is very 
great in heaven"; "But I say unto you, My 
friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body, 
and after that have no more that they can do "; 
* John iii, 5. t Matt, x, $2, and Luke ix, 26. 



1 6 The Writings of St Francis 

" See that ye be not troubled "; M In your pa- 
tience you shall possess your souls "; and, "He 
that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be 
saved."* 

XVII. On Preachers.! 

LET none of the friars preach contrary to the 
form and rules of the Holy Roman Church, 
nor without the permission of his minister. Let 
the minister be careful not to grant it indiscreetly 
to anyone. But let all the friars preach according 
to their example. Let no minister or preacher 
claim for himself as a right the administration of 
the friars or the office of preaching, but at any 
time the order is given to him he must abandon 
his charge without resistance. Also in the love 
of God I beseech all my friars preachers, " pray- 
ers " and workers, clerks or lay, to be diligent 
in humiliating themselves in everything, not to 
boast or flatter themselves, not to be puffed up 
within at their eloquent speech or fine works, 
nor at any good whatever, effected, said or done 
by God in them and through them at any time, 
for the Lord says, " Rejoice not in this, that the 
spirits are subject unto you."t 

And let us be well assured that we have no- 

* Mark viii, 35; Luke ix, 24; Matt, v, 10; John xv, 20; 
Matt, x, 23; Matt, v, n, 12; Luke vi, 22, 23; Matt. 10, 28; 
Luke xii, 4; Matt, xxiv, 6, and x, 22. 

t This is the little discourse given by St Francis to his 
friars departing for the first time to preach: "Go, my 
well-beloved, two by two, into different parts of the 
world; preach peace and penitence to men for the remis- 
sion of sins. Be calm and patient in the midst of your 
trials, for the Lord will fulfil His designs and promises. 
To those who question you reply humbly; bless those 
who persecute you; give thanks to those who revile and 
calumniate you, for all that ^prepares for us an eternal 
kingdom." — I Celano, p. 31, Edouard d'Alencon edition. 

± Luke x, 20. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 1 7 

thing belonging to us but our sins and vices. 
And we have cause for rejoicing when we are 
exposed to divers temptations, when we suffer 
all sorts of tribulation and anguish in soul and 
body in this world in order to gain eternal life. 
Also, my brothers, let us all be watchful against 
all kinds of pride and vainglory. Beware of the 
wisdom of this world and of the prudence of 
the flesh: the spirit of the flesh cares little for 
deeds, butseeks rather for words; itdoes not busy 
itself with religion and internal holiness of mind, 
it desires and wishes for a religion and a saint 
liness of outward appearance. It is of such that 
the Saviour said, "Amen, I say to you, they 
have received their reward."* The spirit of the 
Lord wills that the flesh.be mortified, scorned, 
reviled, despised and abased; it seeks humility 
and patience, pure simplicity, true peace of the 
mind, and before all it desires holy fear, divine 
wisdom and love of the Father, the Son and 
the Holy Spirit. 

And let us attribute all these good things to 
our Sovereign Lord and God most High; let us 
acknowledge that all good belongs to Him; let 
us give thanks to Him from whom all good 
things come. Let the Sovereign Lord most 
High, the only true God, possess, receive and 
accept all honour and reverence, all praise and 
blessing, all afts of gratitude, all glory, He who 
alone is good, He from whom all good comes. 
And when we see any evil done or hear God 
blasphemed, let us praise the Lord, let us do a 
good work and magnify Him who is blessed for 
ever. Amen. 

* Matt, vi, 2. 



1 8 The Writings of St Francis 

XVIII. How the Ministers must meet together. 

EVERY year, on the day of the feast of St 
Michael the Archangel, the ministers must 
assemble with their brothers, wherever it shall 
seem good to them, to converse together upon 
the things of God. Once every three years all 
ministers who are across the sea or beyond the 
mountains, and the other ministers every year, 
shall come to the Chapter in the Church of Santa 
Maria della Portiuncula, unless the minister and 
servant of the whole fraternity orders otherwise. 

XIX. That the Friars must live as Catholics. 

ALL the brothers must be Catholics, and 
live and speak as Catholics. If anyone by 
his words or deeds should sin against the Catho- 
lic Faith and life, and not repent, let him be cast 
out of our fraternity. In all that regards the 
salvation of the soul and is not contrary to our re- 
ligion, let us look upon all clerks and religious as 
our masters, and let us venerate their order, 
their office and their conduct as under God. 

XX. On the Friars' Confessions and the receiv- 
ing the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. 

LET my blessed friars, clerks and lay, confess 
their sins to priests of our Order. And if 
they cannot do so, let them confess to some 
other Catholic and prudent priest, knowing and 
considering well that from whatever priest they 
receive penance and absolution, they are with- 
out doubt released from their sins, if they have 
observed and faithfully and humbly accom- 
plished the penance imposed on them. But if 
they cannot find a priest, let them confess to 
their brother, for the Apostle James says, "Con- 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 19 

ess your sins one to another." But in this case 
they must not omit afterwards to betake them- 
selves to the priests who alone have power to 
bind and to unloose. And thus, contrite and 
confessed, let them receive the Body and Blood 
of our Lord Jesus Christ with great humility 
and reverence, remembering the word of the 
Lord, " He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh 
My Blood, hath eternal life." And, again, " Do 
this for a commemoration of Me."* 

XXI. Of the Discourses and Exhortations the 
Friars may give. 

AND all my friars shall, when it pleases 
them, give this discourse and exhortation, 
or a similar one before any audience, with the 
blessing of God: Fear and honour, praise and 
bless, thank and adore the Lord God Almighty, 
in Trinity and Unity, Father, Son and Holy 
Spirit, the Creator of all. "Do penance: bring 
forth fruits worthy of penance, for you know 
that you must soon die."t "Give, and it shall be 
given to you; forgive, and you shall be forgiven." 
And if you do not forgive men their sins, the 
Lord will not forgive you your sins. Confess all 
your sins. Blessed are those who die in the 
exercise of penitence, for they will go to the 
kingdom of heaven. Woe to those who do not 
die in penitence, for they will be sons of the 
devil whose works they do, they will go to fire 
eternal. Be watchful and avoid all evil and per- 
severe in good unto the end. 

* John vi, 55; Luke xxii, 19. 
t Matt, iii, 3, and Luke iii, 8. 



2a 



20 The Writings of St Francis 

XXII. On the Exhortation to the Friars. 

LET us all, my brothers, consider this word 
of the Lord: "Love your enemies: do good 
to them that hate you."* For our Lord Jesus 
Christ, in whose footsteps we must follow, gave 
the title of friend to a traitor, and He offered 
Himself willingly to His executioners. Our 
friends are those who bring upon us unjustly 
troubles and afflictions, humiliations, insults, 
griefs, torments, martyrdom and death; we 
ought to love them the more, for what they do 
to us procures eternal life. Let us hate our body 
with its vices and sins, because if we live carn- 
ally we shall lose the love of our Lord Jesus 
Christ and eternal life and ourselves and all who 
belong to us in Hell, for our sins make us vile 
and miserable, opposed to good, drawn and in- 
clined to evil, because, as the Lord says in the 
Gospel, from the heart of man come forth evil 
thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 
thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, las- 
civiousness, an evil eye, false testimonies, blas- 
phemies, pride and foolishness.! All these evils 
come from within the heart of man and these 
defile the soul. 

But now that we have renounced the world, 
we have but one thing to do, which is to be 
solicitous to follow the desire and will of the 
Lord. Let us take care not to resemble the stony 
and thorny earth by the wayside, according to 
the word of the Lord in the Gospel: "The seed 
is the word of God." That which fell by the 
wayside and was trodden down represents 
those which hear the Word of God and under- 
stand it not; immediately the devil comes, takes 
possession of what was sown in their heart and 
*Matt. v, 44. fMatt. xv, 19; Mark vii, 21. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 2 1 

takes away the word of God, "lest believing 
they should be saved." As for that which falls 
upon the rock, it represents those who hear the 
word of God and at once receive it with joy; 
but at the first tribulation or persecution, they 
are presently scandalized at this word, they are 
not rooted in good, they believe for a time and 
when temptation comes fall away. Some of the 
seed fell among thorns: it represents those who 
listen to the word of God, but the cares and 
perplexities of the world, the deceitfulness of 
riches and the allurements of lust enter into 
them, choke the word and prevent its yielding 
fruit. Finally that which falls on good ground 
describes those who in a single and good heart 
bring forth fruit in patience.* 

That is why, my brothers, we should, as the 
Lord says, "let the dead bury their dead," and 
let us greatly mistrust the malice and craft of 
Satan; he does not wish man to turn his heart 
and mind towards the Lord God. He roves 
about and seeks with some snare of advantage 
or reward to take the human heart, to stifle in 
it the Divine word, to make it forget the Lord's 
commandments, to blind it by the cares and 
business of the world and to make his dwelling 
there, as the Lord says: "When an unclean 
spirit has gone out of a man, he walketh through 
dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. Then 
he saith: I will return into my house from whence 
I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, 
swept and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh 
with him seven other spirits more wicked than 
himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and 
the last state of that man is made worse than 
the first." 
* Matt, xiii, 19-23; Mark iv, 15-20; Luke viii, 24-26; ii, 1 5. 



22 The Writings of St Francis 

Wherefore let us all, brothers, watch well 
over ourselves, lest the hope of a reward, a 
pleasure or an advantage should make us lose 
all and turn our mind and heart away from God. 
And in the name of holy love, which is God, I 
implore all my brothers, ministers or others, to 
lay aside every obstacle, every care, every 
trouble, and to serve, love, adore and honour 
the Lord with all their might, with a pure heart 
and a healthy mind, which He seeks above all. 
Let us ever make a temple and a dwelling within 
us for the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son 
and Holy Spirit, who has said: "Watch ye 
therefore, praying at all times, that you may be 
accounted worthy to escape all these evils that 
are to come, and to stand before the Son ot 
Man."* And when you pray, say, "Our Father, 
who art in Heaven." And let us adore Him with 
a pure heart, for "we ought always to pray, 
and not to faint, "f Those are the worshippers 
who seek the Heavenly Father. "God is a spirit, 
and they that adore Him must adore Him in 
spirit and in truth."! Let us turn to Him who is 
the shepherd and bishop of our souls. He says, 
"I am the good shepherd," I feed My sheep 
and "give My life for the sheep." "All you are 
brethren. Call none your father upon earth; for 
one is your Father, who is in heaven." Be not 
you called master, for one is your Master, who 
is in heaven, and is Christ. § "If you abide in 
Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask 
whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you." 
"Where there are two or three gathered together 
in My name, there am I in the midst of them." |{ 
"Behold, I am with you all days, even to the 

*Luke xxi, 36. fLuke xviii, 1. J John iv, 23, 24. 
§Matt. xxiii, 8-10. IjMatt. xviii, 20. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 23 

consummation of the world. " * ' ' The words that 
I have spoken to you are spirit and life. " t "I 
am the way and the truth and the life. "J 

Let us, therefore, hold fast the words, the life, 
the doctrines and the Holy Gospel of Him who 
deigned to pray to His Father for us and to 
manifest His Name in these words : ' ' My Father, 
I have manifested Thy Name to the men whom 
Thou hast given Me, because the words which 
Thou gavest Me I have given to them, and 
they have received them and have known in 
very deed that I came out from Thee, and 
they have believed that Thou didst send Me. 
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but 
for them whom Thou hast given Me, because 
they are Thine, and all My things are Thine. O 
holy Father, keep them in Thy name whom 
Thou hast given Me, that they may be one as 
We also are. . . . These things I speak in the 
world, that they may have My joy filled in them- 
selves. I have given them Thy word, and the 
world hath hated them, because they are not 
of the world, as I also am not of the world. 
I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out 
of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep 
them from evil. Sanctify them in truth. Thy 
Word is truth. As thou hast sent Me into the 
world, I also have sent them into the world. And 
for them do I sanctify Myself that they also may 
be sanctified in truth. And not for them only do 
I pray, but for them also who through their word 
shall believe in Me; that they all may be one, 
and that the world may believe that Thou hast 
sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast also 
loved Me. And I have made known Thy name to 
them that the love wherewith Thou hast loved 

* Matt, xxviii, 20. f John vi, 64. X John xiv, 6. 



24 The Writings of St Francis 

Me may be in them, and I in them. Father, 
I will that where I am, they also whom Thou 
hast given Me may be with Me, and that they 
may see Thy glory in Thy kingdom.* 

XXIII. Prayer, Praise and Acts of Grace. 

SOVEREIGN GOD Almighty,most High, most 
Holy, most Powerful, Holy and Just Father, 
Lord, King of heaven and earth, we give thanks 
to Thee for Thyself: by Thy Holy Will, by Thy 
Only Son and by Thy Holy Spirit, Thou hast 
created spiritual and corporal beings, Thou hast 
made us in Thine image and in Thy like- 
ness and placed us in paradise, which through 
our fault we have lost. We give thanks to 
Thee that Thou hast created us through Thy 
Son, and that because of the holy and true love 
wherewith Thou hast loved us, Thou hast caused 
Him to be born of the glorious and ever-blessed 
Virgin Mary, true Man and true God, and that 
Thou hast willed to redeem us from our cap- 
tivity by His cross, His death and His blood. 
We give thanks to Thee because Thy Son Him- 
self will come in the glory of His Majesty to 
drive away into eternal fire the cursed who 
have not repented, and have not known Thee, 
and to say to those who have known, adored 
and served Thee with a contrite heart: "Come, 
ye blessed of My Father, possess you the king- 
dom prepared for you from the foundation of the 
world."! 

And because we all, miserable sinners, are not 
worthy to call Thee by Thy name, we humbly 
pray that our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy well-be- 
loved Son in whom Thou art well pleased, may 
give Thee thanks with the Holy Spirit, the Com- 
* John xvii, 6-26. f Matt, xxv, 34. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 25 

forter, for all Thy blessings, in a way acceptable 
to Thee: Thy Son is all sufficing - , through Him 
Thou hast granted us so many favours. Alleluia! 
And you, glorious and ever-blessed Mary, 
Mother of God, Virgin ever, blessed Michael, 
Gabriel and Raphael, all the choirs of happy 
spirits, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Domini- 
ons, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Angels and 
Archangels, holy John the Baptist, John the 
Evangelist, Peter and Paul, blessed Patriarchs, 
Prophets, Saints, Innocents, Apostles, Evange- 
lists, Disciples, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, 
blessed Elias and Enoch, and you all holy 
ones, present, past and to come, we beg you 
humbly for the love of God, give thanks to Him 
for all His benefits as shall be pleasing to Him, 
the Sovereign God, Living and Eternal, to His 
very dear Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, and 
to the Holy Spirit, Paraclete, world withoutend. 
Amen. Alleluia. 

And all those who shall serve the Lord God 
in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, all 
ecclesiastics, priests, deacons, subdeacons, aco- 
lytes, exorcists, readers, door-keepers, all clerks, 
all monks and nuns, young men and children, 
poor and miserable ones, kings, princes, work- 
men, peasants, servants, masters, virgins, mar- 
ried people, continent ones, laity, men, women, 
the smallest children, girls and boys, youths and 
maidens, old people, the strong, the weak, the 
lowly and the great, all nations, families, tribes, 
languages and peoples, all men who are or 
shall be on the earth, we pray them humbly 
pray, we implore them, we, all-unprofitable 
servants, to ask for us the grace of perse- 
verance in true faith and penitence, for no one 
can be saved otherwise. Let us all with all 



26 The Writings of St Francis 

our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, 
with all our strength, with all our efforts, with 
all our intelligence, with all our means, with all 
our inward parts, with all our desires, with our 
whole will, love the Lord God, who has given 
and gives us all our bodies, our souls, our whole 
life, who has created us, redeemed and saved 
us by His mercy alone, who has given and 
gives us all our blessings, us, miserable and 
unhappy, corrupted and vile, ungrateful and 
wicked. 

Let us then have but one desire and one will, 
one pleasure and one delight : to love and enjoy 
only our Creator, our Redeemer and our Saviour, 
the only true God, perfect and entire, wanting 
nothing, true and supreme, the only One who is 
alone mild and full of compassion, full of tender- 
ness and sweetness, who alone is holy, just, 
good and true; who alone is all benignity, inno- 
cence and purity; from whom, in whom and by 
whom comes all pardon, grace, glory to all peni- 
tents, to all the just and blessed ones who rejoice 
in heaven. Let nothing turn us aside from that, 
let nothing separate, let nothing isolate us. In 
every land, in every place, at all times, every 
moment, every day, continually, let us all trust 
truly and humbly from the bottom of our heart, 
let us love, honour, adore, serve, praise and 
bless, glorify, exalt, magnify and thank the 
Most High, Sovereign God, Eternal Trinity in 
Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator 
of all, Saviour of those who believe, trust, and 
set their love on Him, the unchanging God, 
without end and without beginning, invisible, 
unspeakable, ineffable, incomprehensible, un- 
fathomable, blessed, praised, glorious, exalted, 
great, sublime, mild, compassionate, full of de- 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 27 

light, entirely and above all things to be desired 
throughout all ages. 

In the Name of the Lord I beg all the friars to 
learn the text and sense of these words written 
in this Rule of life for the salvation of our souls. 
Let them frequently recall them to memory. 
And I pray the all-powerful God Himself, Three 
in One, to bless all those who shall teach, learn, 
possess, retain and put it into practice, each 
time that they shall repeat it and observe what 
is here written for our salvation. I pray them all, 
kissing their feet, to love, observe and keep this 
Rule. And on the part of Almighty God, of the 
Lord Pope, and of obedience, I, Brother Fran- 
cis, strictly enjoin that no one shall take away 
from nor add to this written Rule, and that the 
friars shall not adopt any other. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and 
to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, 
is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
Amen. 



28 



The Rule of the Friars Minor from 
the Text of 1223 

I. In the Name of the Lord begins the life of the 
Friars Minor. 

THE Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this: 
to know how to follow the holy Gospel of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, with- 
out possessions and in chastity. Brother Francis 
promises obedience and reverence to the Lord 
Pope Honorius, to his successors canonically 
elected and to the Roman Church. And let the 
other friars be bound to obey Brother Francis 
and his successors. 

II. Concerning those who wish to embrace this 
life and the way in which they should be received. 

IF any wish to embrace this life and come to 
our friars, let these send them to their provin- 
cial ministers, to whom, and not to others, is 
granted the power to receive brothers. But let 
the ministers examine them with care upon 
the Catholic faith and the Sacraments of the 
Church. And if they believe all these things, and 
if they will confess them faithfully and observe 
them unto the end; and if they are not married, 
or if they are and their wives have already en- 
tered a convent, or if the wives, after having 
themselves taken the vow of continence, give 
them permission with the consent of the diocesan 
bishop, or if these women be of such an age that 
they cannot give cause for suspicion, then let 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 29 

the minister say to them, in the words of the holy 
Gospel, "Go, sell what thou hast, and give to 
the poor." But if this cannot be done, their good 
will will suffice. And let the brothers and their 
ministers beware of troubling themselves about 
their temporal goods, in order that they may 
freely do with them what the Lord shall suggest 
to them. However, if advice is needed, the minis- 
ters may then send them to some God-fearing 
men who shall counsel them in what way their 
goods may be distributed to the poor. After this 
they may receive the habit of probation, that is 
to say, two tunics without a hood, the cord and 
the breeches and the chaperon reaching to the 
cord, unless occasionally, however, the same 
ministers judge otherwise, agreeably to God. 
The year of probation being finished, let them 
be received into obedience, promising ever to 
observe this life and this Rule. And in no way 
may they be allowed to leave this Order, accord- 
ing to the command of the Lord Pope,* because 
the holy Gospel says, " No man putting his 
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for 
the kingdom of God. "t 

And those who have already promised obedi- 
ence may have a tunic with a hood and, if they 
wish it, another without a hood. And those who 
are obliged by necessity may wear shoes. And 
all the friars must be clad in poor and vile gar- 
ments, and they may patch them with sacking 
and other pieces with the blessing of God. I 
exhort and warn them against despising and 
condemning men they see clothed in fine and 
splendid garments, and who are accustomed to 

* Allusion to the Ball of Honorius III, Cum secundum 
consilium. Cf. above, p. 3. 
t Luke ix, 62. 



30 The Writings of St Francis 

delicacies in meat and drink. But rather let each 
judge and despise himself. 

III. Ot the Divine Office, of Fasting and ot 
the way in which Friars should go about the 
World. 

LET the clerks recite the Divine Office ac- 
cording to the custom of the Holy Roman 
Church, except the Psalter, as soon as they can 
get breviaries.* Let the lay-brothers say twenty- 
four Pater-nosters for Matins, five for Lauds, 
seven for each of the following hours, Prime, 
Terce, Sext and None, twelve for Vespers, 
seven for Compline, and let them pray for the 
dead. 

And let them fast from the feast of All Saints 
to the Nativity of our Lord. With regard to the 
holy Lent which begins at the Epiphany and lasts 
for forty days, consecrated by the holy fast of 
the Lord, may those who observe it voluntarily 
be blest by the Lord; and let not those who do 
not wish to do so be compelled. But they must 
fast during the other Lent until the Resurrec- 
tion of the Lord. At other times they shall not 
be bound to fast except on Friday. Neverthe- 
less in case of absolute necessity the friars shall 
not be compelled to fast. 

I counsel, warn and exhort my brothers in the 
Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go forth into 
the world they shall avoid disputes and wordy 
discussions; they shall not judge others, but be 
gentle, peaceful, modest, full of meekness and 
humility, speaking honestly to all, as is fitting. 
And they must not ride on horseback unless 

* I have hesitated much and still hesitate at the trans- 
lation of this passage, "ex quo habei e poterunt breviaria." 
I keep to the meaning given by Wadding, Opusc. p. 179. 
See Etudes Franciscaines, v, pp. 490-504. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 31 

obliged by manifest necessity or infirmity. "Into 
whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace to 
this house."* And according to the holy Gospel 
they may eat of all food set before them. 

IV. That the Friars must not Receive Money. 

I STRICTLY command all the friars never to 
receive coin or money for themselves or for 
any other person. However, for the necessities 
of the sick and for clothing the other friars, the 
ministers and guardians must, with the aid ot 
spiritual friends, be most careful to supply what 
is necessary according to places and times and 
cold climates, always provided, as has before 
been said, that they do not receive coin or 
money. 

V. On the manner of Working. 

LET the friars to whom the Lord has given 
the grace to work do so faithfully and de- 
voutly, in such a way that driving out idleness, 
the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish 
the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, to which 
all other temporal things should be in subjec- 
tion. And as payment for their work, let them 
receive for themselves and for their brothers the 
things necessary for the body, coins and money 
excepted, and this with humility as befitting the 
servants of God and the disciples of most holy 
poverty. 

* Luke x, 5. 



32 The Writings of St Francis 

VI. That the Friars may not appropriate any- 
thing; on asking Alms and for Sick Friars. 

THE friars may not appropriate anything, 
neither house, place nor anything. And 
let them go about with confidence asking alms, 
as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, serving 
the Lord in humility and poverty; and let them 
not blush to do so, for the Lord made Himself 
poor in this world for our sakes. Herein is the 
excellence of most high poverty, which has made 
you, my very dear brothers, heirs and the kings ol 
the kingdom of heaven, poor in goods and exalted 
in virtue. Let poverty be your heritage and lead 
you to the land of the living. Attach yourselves to 
her entirely, much loved brothers, and in the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ never desire to pos- 
sess anything under heaven. 

And in whatever other place the friars may 
meet one another, let there be mutual service. 
And with confidence let them show each other 
their needs; for if a mother loves and cares for 
her child according to the flesh, with how much 
more affection should each love and care for his 
brother according to the spirit. And if one of 
them should fall sick, let the other friars serve 
him as they would wish to be served. 

VII. On the Penance to be imposed on Friars 
who have fallen into sin. 

IF any friars, at the instigation of the enemy, 
commit mortal sins on account of which the 
friars shall have decreed that they betake them- 
selves only to the provincial ministers, let these 
friars be bound to apply to them as soon as 
possible, without any delay. But let the ministers 
themselves, if they are priests, impose penance 
upon them with mercy;and if theyare notpriests, 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 33 

penance shall be imposed by other priests of the 
Order, as it shall seem fit to them in the Lord. 
And they must avoid being annoyed and troubled 
at the sin of any friar, because anger and vexa- 
tion stifle charity in oneself and in others. 

VIII. On the Election of the Minister-General to 
this Fraternity and on the Chapter at Pentecost. 

ALL the friars must have one of the mem- 
bers of the fraternity over them as minister- 
general and servant of the whole fraternity, and 
they are bound to obey him absolutely. On his 
death, the election of a successor must be made 
by the provincial ministers and the guardians at 
the Whitsun Chapter, which the provincial mini- 
sters shall be bound to attend in whatever place 
fixed by the minister-general, and that once 
every three years or more or less often, as it shall 
be decreed by this same minister. And if at any 
time the majority of the provincial ministers and 
guardians should consider this minister to be un- 
fit for the service andcommon utility of the friars, 
let the ministers and guardians to whom the 
election appertains, be bound, in the name of the 
Lord, to elect another as guardian. After the 
Whitsun Chapter the ministers and guardians 
may each, if they wish and think it necessary, 
assemble a chapter of the friars in their custo- 
dies once in the same year. 

IX. On Preachers.* 

THE friars must not preach in the diocese or 
any bishop should the latter object to it. And 
no friar must dare in any way to preach to the 
* At the beginning of his life, St Francis hesitated about 
his vocation: should he preach, or should he simply lead a 
contemplative life? St Bonaventura puts into his mouth a 
discourse upon this subject, which Wadding has given as 
the fourteenth conference {Opuscula, p. 318). 

3 



34 The Writings of St Francis 

people if he has not been examined and approved 
of by the minister-general of this fraternity, and 
if he has not received from him sanction to 
preach. I also warn and exhort my friars that in 
their preaching their words must be well chosen 
and chaste, for the profit and education of the 
people, pointing out vices and virtues, misery 
and glory, with brevity of speech, because "the 
Lord made His word short upon earth."* 

X. On the Admonition and Correction of the 
Friars. 

LET the friars who are ministers and servants 
of the other friars visit and admonish their 
friars, and correct them in humility and charity, 
not ordering them to do anything against their 
conscience and our Rule. But let the friars who 
are in subjection remember that for God's sake 
they have given up their own will. Also, I com- 
mand them strictly to obey their ministers in all 
which they have vowed to the Lord to observe, 
and which is not against their souls and our 
Rule. And in any place where there may be friars 
who see and recognize the impossibility of obser- 
vingtheRuleinallits fullness, thesemayandmust 
betake themselves to their ministers. And let the 
ministers receive them with charity and kindness, 
and shew such intimacy that these friars may 
speak and act with them as masters with their 
servants. For thus it ought to be, since the mini- 
sters are the servants of all the friars. 

Moreover, I warn the friars, I exhort them in 
the Lord Jesus Christ, to keep themselves from 
all pride, vainglory, envy, avarice, cares and 
anxieties of this world, from detraction and mur- 
muring. And those who are ignorant of letters 
* Rom. ix, 28. 



The Rule of the Friars Minor 35 

shall not trouble to learn, but let them consider 
that above all thing's they should desire to pos- 
sess the spirit of the Lord and his holy works, 
to pray to God with a pure heart, to be humble 
and patient in persecution and infirmity, and to 
love those who persecute us, reprove and blame 
us, for the Lord says: "Love your enemies, 
and pray for them that persecute and calumni- 
ate you." "Blessed are they that suffer persecu- 
tion for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom ot 
heaven. And he that shall persevere unto the 
end shall be saved."* 

XI. That the Friars must not enter Convents or 
Nuns. 

I STRICTLY command all the friars not to 
have any dealings or suspicious talks with 
women and not to enter into nuns' convents, un- 
less they have received special permission from 
the Apostolic See. And let them not be godfathers 
of men or women, lest scandal arise on that 
occasion among the friars or on account of the 
friars. 

XII. On those who go among the Saracens or 
other Infidels. 

ALL friars who wish to go among the Sara- 
cens and other infidels must ask permission 
from their provincial ministers. And let the mini- 
sters only grant permission to those who seem 
fit to be sent. 

I also order the ministers through obedience 
to request the Lord Pope to grant that one or 
the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church may be 
governor, protector and superior of this frater- 

* Matt, v, 10, 44; x, 22. 

3<* 



36 The Writings of St Francis 

nity, so that, always obedient and submissive at 
the feet of this same Holy Church, and firm in 
the Catholic Faith, we may observe the poverty, 
the humility and the Holy Gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, which we have firmly pro- 
mised 



37 



The Testament of our Seraphic 
Father St Francis 

THE Lord has given me, Brother Francis, 
grace to begin thus to do penance : for when 
I was in sin, it was very bitter to me to see 
lepers; but the Lord Himself led me into the 
midst of them, and I practised mercy towards 
them. And when I left their presence, what had 
before seemed bitter to me was changed into 
sweetness of soul and body. And after that I 
remained a little, and I came out from this world. * 
And the Lord gave me such great faith in the 
churches that I thus adored Him with simplicity 
and said, "We adore Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, 
here and in all Thy churches which are upon the 
earth, and we bless Thee for having redeemed 
the world by Thy Holy Cross." 

Afterwards the Lord gave and still gives me 
so great faith in the priests who live according 
to the rule of the Holy Roman Church, because 
of their character, that, even if they persecute 
me, to them I shall have recourse. And if I had 
as much wisdom as Solomon, and if I found some 
poor priests of this world, I would not preach 
against their will in the parishes where they 
live. They and all others I would fear, love and 
honour as my lords, and I will not discern any 
sin in them, for I look upon them as the sons of 
God, and they are my lords. I act thus, because 
in this world I see nothing corporally of the 
Most High Son of God if it be not His most 

* Cf, i Celano, p. 20, Edouard d'Alen(jon edition, 



38 The Writings of St Francis 

holy Body and Blood which they receive and 
which they alone administer to others. And 
I will above all things that these most holy 
mysteries be honoured and revered and placed in 
precious [holy] places. As to the most holy 
Name of the Lord and to His written words, if 
I should find them at any time in unworthy 
places, I will gather them up and beg that others 
will gather them and put them in a becoming 
place. And all theologians and those who dis- 
pense most holy divine words we must honour 
and venerate as those who communicate to us 
spirit and life. 

And when the Lord gave me friars, no one 
shewed me what I must do, and the Most High 
revealed to me that I must live according to the 
rule of the Holy Gospel. And I caused it to be 
written in a few and simple words, and the Lord 
Pope confirmed it.* And those who came to em- 
brace this life gave as much as they could to the 
poor; they were content with a single tunic 
patched within and without at will, with the 
cord and the breeches. And we wished for no 
more. 

We clerks say the Office like other clerks, 
the lay-brothers say the Pater noster and wil- 
lingly enough we remained in the churches. And 
we were simple and submissive to all. And I 

*One day while St Francis was weeping over his sins, 
he wa« consoled by the Lord and was granted a vision 
concerning the future of his Order. " Have courage," he 
said afterwards to his friars, "and rejoice in the LORD; 
you are few in number, but do not be sad, be not dis- 
mayed at my simplicity nor at your own, for the Lord 
has clearly shown me that God will increase you to a 
great multitude, and by His blessing you will grow and 
extend" (St Bonav., Leg. ma/., Ill, 6; Wadding, Opusc. 
p. 286). This passage is taken from the Leg. prima of 
Celano, p. 29, Edouard d'Alencon edition. 



The Testament of St Francis 39 

worked with my hands, and I will work still, 
and I strongly desire that all the other friars 
shall labour at some work in conformity with 
honesty. Let those who know not how, learn, 
not with the desire of receiving- payment for their 
work, but for a good example and to drive away 
idleness. And when they do not give us payment 
for work, let us betake ourselves to the table of 
the Lord, begging alms from door to door. 

The Lord has revealed to me this salutation, 
which we must utter: "The Lord give thee 
peace." The friars must not receive churches, 
poor dwellings, nor any other places built for 
them, unless conformable to the holy poverty 
which we have promised in the Rule, dwelling 
here below like strangers and pilgrims. 

I strictly forbid all my friars under obedience, 
wherever they may be, to dare to ask for letters 
at the Court of Rome for themselves or for any 
interposed person, for a church or for any other 
other place, under the pretext of preaching, or 
because of persecution against themselves; but 
wherever they are not received, let them pass on 
elsewhere to do penance with the blessing of 
God. And I firmly desire to obey the Minister- 
General of this fraternity and the guardian it 
shall please him to give me. And I wish to be 
so completely in his hands that I can neither 
move nor act against his orders and his will, 
because he is my master. And though I am 
simple and weak, I wish nevertheless always to 
have a clerk who shall recite the Office as set 
forth in the Rule. 

And all the other friars must in the same way 
obey their guardians and say the Office accord- 
ing to the Rule. And if there should be any 
friars who will not say the Office according to 



40 The Writings of St Francis 

the Rule but wish to vary it in some way, or if 
they should not be Catholic-minded, let all the 
other friars, wherever they may be and in what 
place soever they may find themselves, be com- 
pelled by obedience to conduct such to the 
nearest guardian who is nearest to the place 
where they have found him. And the guardian 
shall be compelled by obedience to keep him 
closely confined day and night like a man in 
prison, so that he cannot be taken away from 
him, until he shall himself give him back into 
the hands of his minister. And the minister shall 
be absolutely bound by obedience to send him 
with brothers who shall guard him day and 
night as a prisoner to be presented to the Lord 
of Ostia, who is master, protector and superior 
of the whole fraternity. 

And let not the friars say: "This is another 
Rule." For it is a remembrance, a warning, an 
exhortation; it is my testament, that I, little Bro- 
ther Francis, leaveto you, my blessed brothers, 
in order that we may observe in a more Catholic 
way the Rule that we have promised to the 
Lord. And the Minister-General and all the 
other ministers and guardians are bound by 
obedience to add nothing to and take nothing 
away from these words. And in all the chapters 
they hold, when they read the Rule, let them 
also read these words. And I strictly command 
all my friars, clerk and lay, under obedience, 
not to put glosses on the Rule nor on these 
words, saying: "They must thus be understood. " 
But as the Lord has given me grace to say and 
write purely and simply the Rule in these words, 
thus do you purely and simply understand them, 
and put them into practice with His holy grace 
for ever. 



The Testament of St Francis 41 

And whoever shall observe these thing's, let 
him be filled from heaven with the blessing of 
the most High Celestial Father, and on earth 
let him be filled with the blessing of His well- 
beloved Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Paraclete, 
and with all the Powers of Heaven and from all 
the saints. And I, Brother Francis, your little 
servant, as far as I can, confirm within and 
without this very holy benediction. So be it. 

* This is the blessing given by St Francis on his death- 
bed to Brother Elias and the Order: "I bless thee, son, 
in all and above all; and because in thy hands the Most 
High has increased my brothers and my children, thus, 
over thee and in thee, I bless them all. From heaven and 
upon earth may the Sovereign Lord bless thee with all 
things. I bless thee as much as I can and more than I 
can ; and what I cannot of myself, may He who can do 
all things, grant thee. May God be mindful of thy work, 
and of thy trouble, and may thy share be laid up at the 
recompense of the just. Mayst thou find all the blessings 
thou desirest and realize the fulfilment of thy just de- 
mands. Farewell, all my children, in the fear of the Lord, 
dwell ever in Him, for there are great trials coming upon 
you, and tribulation approaches. Happy are they who 
persevere in the way in which they have begun. There 
will be scandals in the future which will separate 
some of you. As for me, I hasten towards my Lord and 
my God; I have devoutly served Him from the depths of 
my soul; I go to Him with confidence" (i Cel. p. 113, 
ed, d'Alencon). 



42 



Fragments of the Rule of the Sisters 
of St Clare 

The Promise of St Francis to St Clare. 

BECAUSE through Divine inspiration you 
have become daughters and servants of the 
Most High celestial Father, Sovereign King, 
and because you have taken the Holy Spirit for 
a spouse by choosing a life in accordance with 
the perfection of the Holy Gospel, I wish and I 
promise to have always on my own part or on 
the part of my friars, diligent care and special 
solicitude for you as well as for them. 

The Last Wish St Francis wrote for St Clare. 

I LITTLE Brother Francis, wish to follow the 
, life and poverty of the Most High, our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and of His most holy Mother and 
to persevere in this way unto the end. And I be- 
seech you, my ladies, and I counsel you to live 
always in this most holy life of poverty. And be- 
ware lest, under the influence of some strange 
teaching or advice, you should depart from it in 
any way whatsoever. 



43 



Admonitions of our Seraphic Father 
St Francis 

I. Of the Body of Christ. 

THE Lord Jesus said to His disciples: "I 
am the way, and the truth, and the life. 
No man cometh to the Father but by Me. If 
you had known Me, you would without doubt 
have known My Father also ; and from hence- 
forth you shall know Him, and you have seen 
Him. Philip saith to Him: Lord, shew us the 
Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to 
him: So long a time have I been with you, and 
have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth 
Me, seeth the Father also." The Father "in- 
habiteth light inaccessible, " and ' ■ God is spirit," 
and "no man hath seen God at any time."* Be- 
cause God is spirit, spirit alone can see God ; for 
it "is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh pro- 
fiteth nothing." But the Son, inasmuch as He is 
equal to the Father, cannot be seen by anyone 
except the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus 
all those who since our Lord Jesus Christ have 
seen humanity without seeing His spirit and 
His divinity and without believing that He is 
the true Son of God, were condemned. Likewise 
all those who see the Sacrament of the Body of 
Christ, consecrated by the words of the Lord 
on the altar in the hands of the priest under the 
appearance of bread and wine, and who do not 
see His spiritandHisdivinity and do not believe it 
to be truly the most holy Body and Blood of our 

* John xiv, 6-9; 1 Tim. vi, 16; John iv, 24; I, 18. 



44 The Writings of St Francis 

Lord Jesus Christ, those also are condemned, 
on the testimony of the Almighty Himself, who 
says: "This is My Body" and "the Blood of 
the New Testament," and, "He that eateth My 
Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath everlasting 
life." 

Thus he who has the spirit of God which 
dwells in those who are faithful to Him, he it is 
who receives [with fruit] the most holy Body and 
Blood of the Lord ; all others who have no part 
in this spirit and yet dare to communicate, eat 
and drink judgement to themselves.* "O ye 
sons of men, how long will ye be hard of 
heart? "f Why do you not know the truth and 
believe in the Son of God? He every day hu- 
miliates Himself as at the time when descending 
rom His royal throne He came into the womb 
of a Virgin. Each day He Himself comes 
to you under a lowly appearance. Each day 
He descends from the bosom of His Father 
to the altar in the hands of the priest. Even 
as He shewed Himself to the holy Apostles 
in His true flesh, so He shews Himself to us 
in the sacred Bread. And even as in His flesh 
they saw only His humanity, although be- 
lieving in and contemplating His divinity itself; 
so we, seeing the bread and wine with our 
bodily eyes, firmly believe that there are His 
most holy Body and His true and living Blood. 
It is in this way that the Lord is always with 
His disciples, as He Himself says: "Behold, I 
am with you all days, even to the consumma- 
tion of the world. "| 
* See i Cor. xi, 29. f Psalm iv, 3. J Matt, xxviii, 20 



Admonitions of St Francis 45 

II. On the Vice of Self-Will. 

THE Lord said to Adam: "Of every tree ot 
Paradise thou shalt eat; but of the tree ot 
knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat."* 
Adam then could eat of the fruit of every tree of 
Paradise, and as long as he did nothing against 
obedience he did not sin. He eats of the tree of 
the knowledge of good who regards his will as 
his own property, and boasts of the good deeds 
which the Lord manifests and works in his per- 
son. He listens to the suggestions of the devil, 
transgresses Divine commands, and thus finds 
the fruit of the knowledge of evil, for which he 
must bear the penalty. 

III. On Perfect and Imperfect Obedience. 

THE Lord says in the Gospel: " Every one 
that doth not renounce all that he posses- 
seth cannot be My disciple," and "He that will 
save his life shall lose it. "f He abandons all that 
he possesses, loses his body and his soul, who 
entirely gives himself up to obedience in the 
hands of his superior. All his actions, all his 
thoughts, provided they are good and not op- 
posed to the will of his chief, are fruits of true 
obedience. And if perchance the subject should 
see things better and more profitable for his soul 
than those which his prelate commands, let him 
nevertheless surrender his will to God. His duty 
is to aim at accomplishing the orders of his pre- 
late. That is true and charitable obedience, and 
pleasing to God and one's neighbour. 

But if the prelate should give to the one in 

subjection a command opposed to his conscience, 

he may disobey, without, however, for this 

reason leaving his superior; and if this conduct 

*Gen. ii, 16. 17. fLuke xiv, 33; Matt, xvi, 13. 



46 The Writings of St Francis 

brings persecution upon him, let him love his 
superiors the more for the love of God. For he 
who prefers persecution to separation from his 
brothers really dwells in the true spirit of obe- 
dience, since he sacrifices his life for his brothers. 
There are indeed many religious who, with the 
excuse 01 knowing better than their superiors, 
"look back" and return to the vomit of their 
own will.* All such are guilty of homicide and 
by their direful examples cause the loss of many 
souls 

IV. That no one shall take Superiorship upon 
himself. 

" T AM not come to be ministered unto, but to 
A minister," says the Lord. Let those who are 
appointed to govern the others boast no more of 
their superiority than if they were ordered to 
wash their brothers' feet; and if they are more 
perturbed by the loss of their superiorship than 
by losing the office of washing the feet, so much 
the more will the salvation of their soul be ex- 
posed to danger. 

V. Let no one boast except in the Cross of the 
Lord. 

CONSIDER, O man, how excellent is the 
position in which the Lord has placed thee: 
He has created thee, formed a body in the image 
of His well-beloved Son and a soul in His own 
likeness. Notwithstanding, all creatures placed 
under heaven serve the Creator in their fashion, 
they know and obey Him better than thou. And 
even the demonsdid not crucify Him, butit is thou 
who hast agreed with them to crucify Him, and 
thou crucifiest Him afresh in delighting in vice 
and sin. Canst thou boast of this? Even if thou 
*Cf. Luke ix, 62, and Pro v. xxvi, 11. 



Admonitions of St Francis 47 

shouldst be clever and intelligent, ifthoushouldst 
possess all knowledge, if thou shouldst know all 
languages and be able to search closely into 
celestial problems, thou couldst not glorify thy- 
self at all upon all that: because one demon alone 
has known more of heavenly things, he also 
knows more of earthly ones than all men, even 
though there be men who have received from 
God special knowledge of sovereign wisdom. 
Also, if thou wert richer and more beautiful than 
all, even if thou couldst perform wonders, if thou 
couldst put devils to flight, all that would be 
baneful to thee; it would profit thee nothing and 
thou couldst not boast of it. But we may glory in 
our infirmities and in the daily bearing of the 
holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

VI. On the Imitation of our Lord. 

LET us all meditate, brothers, on the Good 
Shepherd who bore the suffering of the 
Cross for the salvation of His sheep. The Lord's 
sheep have followed Him in tribulation, in per- 
secution, in shame, in hunger and in thirst, in 
weakness, in temptations and other trials, and 
for this fidelity they have received from the Lord 
eternal life. Moreover, it is great shame to us, 
servants of God, that the saints have practised 
these virtues; we talk of them, and we preach 
that men should follow their example, and for 
that we would receive glory and honour. 

VII. That Good Works should Accompany 
Knowledge. 

THE Apostle says: "The letter killeth, but 
the spirit quickeneth."* Those are killed by 
the letter who only wish to know the text in order 
to appear wiser than others, to acquire great 
*2 Cor. iii, 6. 



48 The Writings of St Francis 

riches and to give them to their neighbours and 
friends. Those religious also are killed by the 
letter who will not follow the spirit of the holy 
books, but prefer to know them only by the 
w T ords and interpret them to others. Those, on 
the contrary, are quickened by the spirit of the 
Holy Scriptures who do not interpret the text 
literally when they study and examine it, but who 
by word and example trace it back to the Lord, 
the source of all good. 

VIII. On Avoiding the Sin of Envy. 

THE Apostle says: "No man can say the 
Lord Jesus but by the Holy Ghost."* 
"There is none that doeth good, no not one."t 
4. He then who is envious of his brother be- 
cause of the good the Lord says and does by 
him, almost commits the sin of blasphemy; he 
envies the Most High Himself, the source and 
author of all good. 

IX. On Love. 

THE Lord says in the Gospel, " Love your 
enemies; do good to them that hate you; 
and pray for them that persecute you."| He 
truly loves his enemy who is not hurt at the in- 
jury received from him, but who grieves, for the 
love of God, at the sin committed by him and 
proves his affection by his ac"ls. 

X. On Bodily Mortification. 

THERE are many who in sinning or in suffer- 
ing an injury often lay the blame on their 
enemy or neighbour. This is quite wrong, for each 
has his enemy under domination, to wit, the body, 
by which he sins. Also happy is the servant who 
always keeps such an enemy enchained under 
* 1 Cor. xii, 3. t Psalm lii. X Matt, y, 44. 



Admonitions of St Francis 49 

his power and wisely guards himself against 
evil attacks; for as long as he a6ts in this way, 
no other enemy, visible or invisible, can hurt 
him. 

XI. Against letting Oneself be influenced by an 
Evil Example. 

NOTHING can be more displeasing to the 
servant of God than sin. In whatever way 
a person sins, if the servant of God grieves and 
gets angry about it, except this be through 
charity, he treasures up wrath for himself.* The 
servant of God who vexes and troubles himself 
about nothing leads an upright and faultless 
life. And blessed is he who keeps nothing for 
himself, rendering "to Csesar the things that 
are Caesar's, and to God the things that are 
God's."! 

XII. On the Knowledge of the Spirit of the 
Lord. 

BY this you may recognize if the servant of 
the Lord has the Spirit of God: that is to say, 
when God works some good deed in him, if 
therefore his flesh — that flesh ever opposed to 
all good — is not puffed up by it; moreover, if he 
sufficiently despises himself in his own eyes and 
if he considers himself beneath all other men. 

XIII. On Patience. 

ONE cannot estimate how much interior 
patience and humility the servant of God 
possesses while he is happy. But when the time 
comes that those who ought to be amiable to 
him are the contrary, then he shows as much 
patience and humility as he truly possesses, and 
nothing more. 

*Cf. Rom. ii, 5. — Docum. ant.jranc. p. 84. 
fMatt. xxii, 21. 

4 



50 The Writings of St Francis 

XIV. On Poverty of Spirit. 
"TJLESSED are the poor in spirit: for theirs 

IJis the kingdom of heaven."* Many are 
faithful at prayer and at the Divine Office, prac- 
tise abstinence and bodily mortification, but let 
them suffer an injury, let them be deprived of 
something, and they will immediately be offen- 
ded and troubled. This is not to be poor in 
spirit, for he who is truly poor in spirit hates 
himself and cherishes those who buffet him on 
the cheek, f 

XV. On Peacemakers. 

"T)LESSED are the peacemakers, for they 
JDshall be called the children of God. " J Those 
are truly peacemakers who, in the midst of all 
their sufferings, in the midst of the world, pre- 
serve exterior and interior peace for the love of 
our Lord Jesus Christ. 

XVI. On Purity of Heart. 
"TJLESSED are the pure of heart, for they 

J3shall see God."§ They are clean of heart 
who despise the world, seek heaven and never 
cease to adore and to see with a pure heart and 
mind the true and living Lord God. 

XVII. On the Humble Servant of God. 

BLESSED is that servant who no more glo- 
ries in the good said and done in him by the 
Lord than in that said and done in others. That 
man sins who exacts from his neighbour more 
than he himself gives to the Lord his God. 

* Matt, v, 3. t Cf. Matt, v, 35. J Matt, v, 9. 
§ Matt, v, 8. 



Admonitions of St Francis 51 

XVIII. On Compassion towards one's Neigh- 
bour. 

HAPPY is the man who bears his neigh- 
bour's infirmities, as he himself would be 
treated in a similar case. 

XIX. On the Happy and Unhappy Servant. 

BLESSED is that servant who attributes all 
his goods to the Lord his God, for he who 
retains anything for himself hides his Master's 
money, and what " hethinketh he hath, shall be 
taken away from him."* 

XX. On the Humble and Good Religious. 

BLESSED is that servant who does not look 
upon himself as better when he is praised 
and exalted by men than when he is reckoned 
vile, simple and contemptible; for whatever a 
man is before God, that he is indeed and no- 
thing more. Woe to the religious who is set in 
a place of dignity by his brothers and will never 
give it up. Happy, on the contrary, is the ser- 
vant who does not fill a superior place by his 
own efforts, but constantly desires to sit at the 
feet of others. 

XXI. On the Blessed and Foolish Religious. 

BLESSED is the religious who finds his 
pleasure and joy in holy discourse and the 
works of the Lord, and who, by these means, 
leads men to the love of God with joy and glad- 
ness. And woe to the religious who delights in 
vain and idle words, and therefore gives men 
reason to laugh. 

* LukeViii, 18. 



4# 



52 The Writings of St Francis 

XXII. On the Frivolous and Talkative Religious. 

HAPPY the servant who does not talk to 
receive a reward, who does not show all 
that he is, who does not readily give way to 
over-talking, but who wisely weighs his words 
and his replies. Woe to the religious who does 
not keep in the depth of his heart the favours 
with which the Lord loads him, and who does 
not show them to the world by his holy life 
alone. Woe to him who, in order to profit, seeks 
to make them known to others only by his 
words; that alone will be his reward, and his 
hearers will draw little fruit from them. 

XXIII. On true Correaion. 

HAPPY is the servant who receives warnings, 
accusations and reproaches with as much 
patience as if it came from himself! Happy is 
the servant who, under reproof, submits with 
gentleness, obeys reverently, confesses his fault 
humbly, and repairs it willingly. Happy is the 
servant who is not eager to excuse himself and 
who humbly bears shame and reproach for a 
fault he has not committed. 

XXIV. On true Humility. 

HAPPY is he who shall be found as humble 
in the midst of his subjects as in the midst 
of his superiors. 

Happy is the servant who always dwells under 
the rod of correction. "The faithful and wise 
servant " * is he who expiates promptly all his sins, 
inwardly by contrition, outwardly by confession 
and works or reparation. 

*Matt. xxiv, 



Admonitions of St Francis 53 

XXV. On true Love. 

HAPPY is the religious who loves the bro- 
ther who is sick and unable to be useful to 
him as much as he loves him who is well and 
capable of doing him service. Happy the brother 
who loves and respects his own absent brother as 
much as if he were present, and who never says 
anything behind his back that he could not in 
charity express before him. 

XXVI. That the Servants of God should honour 
Clerks. 

HAPPY is the servant of God who gives 
his confidence to clerks whose life is up- 
right and according to the form of the Holy 
Roman Church. And woe to those who despise 
them, for although the clerks may be sinners, no 
one ought to despise them because the Lord 
reserves to Himself alone the right of judging 
them. As the office of those who are entrusted 
with the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, which they alone receive and ad- 
minister to others, is high above all other, so the 
sin committed against them is greater, and this 
fault surpasses those committed against any 
other men in this world. 

XXVII. On Virtues putting Vices to flight. 

THERE is neither fear nor ignorance where 
charity and wisdom reign. There is neither 
anger nor vexation where patience and humility 
reign. Where poverty and joy are to be found, 
there is neither cupidity nor avarice. Where 
peace and meditation are, there is neither anxiety 
nor dissipation. Where the fear of God guards 
the heart, the enemy can find no door to enter. 
Where mercy and temperance reside, there is 
neither superfluity nor harshness. 



54 The Writings of St Francis 

XXVIII. Of hiding- Good for fear of losing it. 

HAPPY the servant who lays up to himseh 
as treasure in heaven theblessings that God 
offers him and who does not seek to impart them 
to the world for profit's sake, for the Most High 
Himself will shew forth these works to all those 
whom He wishes to see them, Blessed is the 
servant who keeps the secrets of the Lord in his 
heart.* 

*St Francis often said: "When the servant of God, 
while praying-, receives a visit from on high, he should say: 
Thou hast sent me this consolation from heaven, me an 
unworthy sinner, O LORD; I return it to Thy keeping, for 
I should look upon myself as a robber of Thy treasure. 
And when the servant of God returns to prayer, he must 
consider himself a poor little thing and a sinner, just as if 
he had not received any favour " (St Bonav. Lege?id. rnaj. 
c.x, n.4; Quaracchi edition, p. 108). 



55 



LETTER I 
Letter to all the Faithful 

TO all Christians, religious, clerks and lay- 
brothers, men and women, to all those who 
inhabit the whole world, Brother Francis, their 
servant and subject, presents his homage and re- 
spect, wishing them the true peace of Heaven 
and sincere charity in the Lord. 

Being the servant of all, I am obliged to serve 
every one and communicate to all the balm-bear- 
ing words of my Lord. Thus considering I can- 
not visit you all on account of the weakness and 
infirmity of my body, I purpose in this letter, 
which will be my messenger, to tell you again 
the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word 
of the Father and the words of the Holy Spirit 
which are "spirit and life."* 

I. On the Word of the Father.! 

GOD Most High announced from Heaven the 
coming of this Word of the Father so holy 
great and glorious, by the Archangel St Gabriel 
to the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, in whose 
womb He received the true flesh of our human- 
ity and frailty. Rich above all, He was willing 
with His ever-blessed Mother to choose poverty. 
And when His Passion was drawing near, 
He celebrated the Passover with His disciples, 
"and taking bread, He gave thanks, blest and 
brake it, saying: Take ye, and eat: This is My 

*John vi, 64. Cf. above p. xi. 

t These titles are placed here according to the Boehmer 
edition. 



56 The Writings of St Francis 

Body. And taking the chalice, He said: This is 
My Blood of the New Testament, which shall be 
shed for you and for many unto remission ot 
sins."* Then invoking- His Father, He uttered 
this prayer: "My Father, if it be possible, let 
this chalice pass from Me." "And His sweat 
became as drops of blood trickling down upon 
the ground."! However, He resigned His will to 
the will of His Father, saying: "Father, Thy 
will be done: not as I will, but as Thou wilt."]: 
Now the will of the Father was that His blessed 
and glorious Son, whom He gave to be born for 
us, should offer Himself with His own Blood as 
Sacrifice and Victim on the altar of the Cross; 
not for Himself, by whom "all things were 
made," but for our sins, leaving us an example 
that we should follow in His steps. § He wishes 
us all to be saved by Him, and that we should 
receive Him with a pure heart and chaste body. 
Alas, there are very few who receive Him and 
wish to be saved by Him, although "His yoke is 
sweet and His burden light. "|| 

II. Concerning those who will not keep God's 
Commandments. 

THOSE who refuse to taste how sweet the 
Lord is, and prefer darkness to light, not 
wishing to fulfil the commandments of God, are 
cursed. It is of such that the Prophet says: 
"They are cursed who decline from Thy com- 
mandments. "U On the contrary, oh, how happy 
and blessed are they who love the Lord and 
serve Him as the Lord Himself points out in 
the Gospel: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God 

*Cf. Matt, xxvi, 26-28, and Luke xxii, 19-20. 
t Matt, xxvi, 39; Luke xxii, 44. £Matt. xxvi, 42, 39. 

§ John i, 3; 1 Peter ii, 21. ||Cf. Matt, xi, 30. 
IF Ps. cxviii, 21. 



Letter to all the Faithful 57 

with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul," 
and "thy neighbour as thyself."* 

III. On the Love of God and His Worship. 

YES, let us love God, let us worship Him 
with a pure heart and a pure mind, for that 
is what He seeks above all. He says: "The true 
adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in 
truth; . . . they that adore Him must adore Him 
in spirit and in truth, "t Let us offer Him our 
prayers and praise day and night, saying: " Our 
Father, who art in heaven," for "we ought 
always to pray, and not to faint. "J 

IV. On Confession of our Sins to the Priest. 

WE must also confess all our sins to the 
priest and receive at his hands the Body 
and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who 
eateth not of His Flesh and drinketh not His 
Blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 
But let us eat and drink of it worthily, for "he 
that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and 
drinketh judgement to himself, not discerning 
the Body of the Lord,"§ that is to say, he does 
not distinguish it from other food. 

Moreover, let us bring forth "fruits worthy 
of penance. "|| Let us love our neighbour as our- 
selves, and if anyone cannot or will not do so, 
at least let him do him no evil but seek to do 
him good. 

V. How those should Judge who have the right 
of Judging. 

LET those who are invested with the autho- 
rity of justice exercise it with mercy, in the 
same compassionate manner as they themselves 

*Matt. xxii, 37-39. t John iv, 23, 24. $ Luke xviii, 1. 
§ 1 Cor. xi, 29. I Luke iii, 8. 



58 The Writings of St Francis 

would wish to be treated by the Lord, ior let 
"judgement without mercy be shown to him 
that doth not mercy."* Let us be charitable and 
humble, let us give alms and wash our soul 
from the stains of sin. Man loses all he leaves 
in this world, but he takes away with him the 
fruits of his charity and the alms he has scat- 
tered: the Lord will give him recompense and 
just reward. 

VI. On Spiritual and Bodily Fasting. 

WE must also fast, avoid vices and sins, 
and superfluity in eating and drinking. 
We must remain attached to the Catholic 
Church. We must often visit churches, and 
reverence the clerks, not for themselves, if they 
are sinners, but because of their office and 
ministry of the most holy Body and Blood ot 
our Lord Jesus Christ, which they sacrifice 
upon the altar and receive and distribute to 
others. Let us be fully convinced that no one 
can be saved except by this Blood of our Lord 
Jesus Christ and by the holy words of the Lord 
which the clerks proclaim, announce and dis- 
tribute, and which they alone and not others 
must administer. But religious especially, who 
have renounced the world, are bound to do more 
and greater things, but " not to leave the others 
undone."! 

VII. How we must Love our Enemies and do 
them good. 

WE must hate our body, its vices and sins, 
for the Lord says in the Gospel, All vices 
and sins come from the heart; we must ' i love our 
enemies and do good to them that hate us."! We 

* James ii, 13. t Luke xi, 42. {Luke vi, 27. 



Letter to all the Faithful 59 

must follow the precepts and counsels of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. We must deny ourselves, 
place our body under the yoke of holy obedience 
and servitude, according to our vows promised 
to the Lord. 

VIII. Let him who is in Authority be Humble. 

AND no one is bound to obey an order in 
which may be matter for wrong- or sin. Let 
him who is the greatest and has the right to 
command consider himself as the lowest and 
the servant of the other brothers; let him have 
for each of them the same mercy that he would 
wish them to shew towards him in a similar 
case. Let him not get angry with a brother on 
account of his offence, but in all patience and 
humility encourage and warn him with kind- 
ness. 

IX. On flying from the Wisdom of the Flesh. 

WE must not be wise and prudent according 
to the flesh, but simple, humble and pure. 
Let us keep our body under subjection and in 
contempt, because we are all by our own fault 
corrupt and miserable, vile worms of earth, as 
the Lord says by the prophet: "I am a worm, 
and no man; the reproach of men, and the out- 
cast of the people."* We must never desire to 
dominate others, we must be servants and sub- 
jects ' ( to every human creature for God's sake, "f 
And may the spirit of the Lord rest on all those 
who shall act in this way and persevere in this 
conduct to the end, and may He make His habi- 
tation and His dwelling in them ; they will be 
the sons of the heavenly Father whose works 
they do; they are the spouses, brothers and 

* Ps. xxi, 6. t 1 Peter ii, 13. 



60 The Writings of St Francis 

mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are es- 
poused to Him when by the Holy Spirit our 
soul is sanctified and united to Jesus Christ. 
We are His brothers when we do the will ot 
His Father in heaven. We are His mothers when 
we bear Him in our heart and in our body, be- 
gotten by pure love and a clean conscience, and 
when we bring him forth by holy actions which 
should enlighten others as an example. 

Oh, what glory, what dignity, what splendour 
to have a Father in heaven! How glorious, how 
beautiful, how sweet to have a Spouse in heaven ! 
What splendour, what charm, what happiness, 
what peace, what sweetness, what inward joy, 
what supreme fortune to have such a Brother : 
He gives up His life for His sheep, Hehas prayed 
the Father for us, saying: "Holy Father, keep 
them in Thy name, whom Thou hast given Me. 
Father, all those whom Thou hastgivenMe in the 
world were Thine, and Thou hast given them to 
Me, and the words which Thou gavest Me, I have 
given to them, and they have received them, and 
have known in very deed that I came out from 
Thee; and they have believed that Thou didst send 
Me. I pray for them : I pray not for the world ; 
bless them, sanctify them. And for them do I 
sanctify Myself: that they also maybe sanctified 
in one, as we also are." And, "Father, I will 
that where I am, they also whom Thou hast 
given Me may be with Me, and may see My glory 
in Thy kingdom."* 

X. The Praise due to God. 

AND because He has suffered so much for us, 
because He has given us so many blessings, 
and will procure so many more for us in the fu- 
* John xvii, 6-24. 



Letter to all the Faithful 61 

ture, let every creature in heaven and earth, in 
the sea and in the depths, give honour, praise, 
blessing and glory to God : He is our might, He 
alone is good, He alone most high, all-powerful 
and worthy to be admired, holy and glorious, 
He alone be blessed and praised from everlast- 
ing to everlasting, world without end. Amen. 

XL On Penitence. 

BUT all those, alas! who do not live in peni- 
tence and who do not receive the Body and 
Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who live in 
vice and sin, following the lead of their evil pas- 
sions and their base desires, who do not keep 
their promises, who obey the world and matter, 
the desires of the flesh, the claims and demands 
of this world, serving in their heart the devil who 
deceives them, whose sons they are and whose 
works they do, all these are blind, they do not 
see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

They ignore spiritual wisdom, they do not 
carry within them the Son of God who is the 
true wisdom of the Father. Of them it is said : 
"All their wisdom is swallowed up."* They 
see, they know, they do evil, they knowingly 
lose their souls. Behold, ye blind, dazzled by 
your enemies the world, the flesh and the 
devil, how sin flatters the body, and how bitter 
to it is the service of God: all vices and sins 
"come forth from the heart" of man, as it is 
said in the Gospel, f 

You will never have any real good, either in 
this world or the next ! You think you will long 
enjoy the vanities of this world, but you deceive 
yourselves, for the day and the hour cometh of 
which you do not think, and you will not con- 
sider it, you ignore it. 

* Ps. cvi, 27. f Matt, xv, 19. 



62 The Writings of St Francis 

XII. On one Dying Impenitent. 

THE body is sick, death approaches; rela- 
tions and friends are assembled! they say, 
"Make thy will." His wife, children, relations, 
friends pretend to weep. And the sick man, see- 
ing them weep, is moved by a bad emotion, and 
thinks to himself: "Yes, my soul, my body, all 
my goods, I leave them in your hands." Truly 
he is cursed who confides his soul, body and all 
his goods into such hands. Also the Lord says 
by His prophet: "Cursed be the man that 
trusteth in man."* Then they send for a priest, 
and the priest says : "Wilt thou do penance for 
thy sins?" He replies: "I will." "Wilt thou 
from thy substance amend thine errors, frauds 
and injustices towards others, as far as it is in 
thy power?" He replies, "No." And the priest 
continues, "Why not?" "Because I have given 
all into the hands of my friends and relations." 
Soon afterwards speech fails him, and thus the 
miserable one dies this bitter death. 

Now let all know well that if a man, of no 
matter what kind, and of no matter what place, 
dies in his sins and crimes without having expi- 
ated them, after having had opportunity to repent 
without having done so, the Devil tears his soul 
from his body with so much violence and pain that 
he alone who has gone through it can know it. All 
talents, power, wisdom and knowledge he thought 
he possessed are taken from him. His relations 
and friends seize his fortune, share it and say 
afterwards: "Cursed be the soul of him who 
might have enriched himself more than he has 
done, and have left us more." Meanwhile worms 
are gnawing his body. And in this way he has 
lost soul and body in this short life, and he 
* Jer. xvii, 5. 



Letter to the Chapter-General 63 

is in hell, where he will undergo eternal judge- 
ment. 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. To all those who 
shall see this letter, I, Brother Francis, your 
little servant, beg and implore you by love which 
is God, and with desire to kiss your feet, to con- 
strain you humbly and lovingly to receive these 
fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ, to 
put them cheerfully into practice, and to obey 
them to perfection. And let those who do not 
know how to read have them read to them often, 
carry them about with them, endeavour dili- 
gently to realize them unto their life's end, for 
they are spirit and life. And those who act other- 
wise will give an account at the Day of Judge- 
ment to the tribunal of Christ. And may all those 
who accept them with goodness, understand and 
communicate them to others, and persevere to 
the end in this conduct, be blessed by the Father , 
the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 



LETTER II 

The Letter sent at the End of His 
Life to the Chapter-General and 
all the Friars 

IN the Name of the Sovereign Trinity and of 
the Holy Unity, Father, Son and Holy 
Spirit. Amen. 

Brother Francis, a wretched and fallen man, 
your little servant, greets in Him who has re- 
deemed and washed us in His Precious Blood, 
all his revered and well-loved friars, his master 
the Minister-General of the Order of the Minors, 



64 The Writings of St Francis 

and the ministers-general who shall come after 
him, and all his brothers in Christ, humble, 
simple and obedient, those who have been and 
those who are to come. At the mention of His 
Name, adore Him with fear and reverence, pro- 
strate on the ground: the Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Son of the Most High, this is the Name 
which is blessed throughout all ages. Amen. 

Listen, my lords, my sons and my brothers, 
give ear to my words. Incline the ear of your 
heart, obey the voice of the Son of God. Keep 
His commandments with all your heart, and fol- 
low His counsels with a perfect mind. Praise 
Him, for He is good, and extol Him by your 
works. He has sent you into the whole world to 
give witness to His word by your own word and 
by your deeds, and to make known to all that 
there is none other almighty but He. Persevere 
in the practice of virtue and holy obedience. 
Keep your vows generously and faithfully. As to 
children the Lord God offers Himself to you. 

I. On Reverence due to the Holy Sacrament. 

WHEREFORE, kissing your feet, I implore 
you all, my brothers, and with the utmost 
affection of my heart I beseech you to show the 
greatest possible reverence and honour to the most 
holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
by whom all things on earth and in heaven have 
been restored to peace and reconciled to the Al- 
mighty Father.* 

II. On the Mass. 

I ALSO implore in the Lord all my friars who 
are, shall be, or desire to be priests of the 
Most High, that, when they wish to celebrate 
Mass, being pure, they offer the true sacrifice 
*Col. i, 20. 



Letter to the Chapter-General 65 

of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord 
Jesus Christ holily, reverently and worthily, 
with a holy, pure intention, not for any earthly 
motive, through fear or to please some one, as 
though they wished to be pleasing to men. Let 
their whole intention, as much as the grace of 
the Almighty allows, be directed towards the 
Sovereign Lord alone, let them seek to please 
Him only, for He alone works there as it 
may please Him, for He says: "Do this for a 
commemoration of Me."* If anyone acts other- 
wise, he becomes another traitor, Judas; "he is 
guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord."f 

Remember, priests, my brothers, what is 
written in the Law of Moses: those who trans- 
gressed it, even materially, were condemned to 
death without mercy by the decree of the Lord. { 
"How much more do you think he deserveth 
worse punishments who hath trodden under 
foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the 
blood of the Testament unclean, by which he 
was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to 
the Spirit of grace?" § Man, indeed, despises, 
denies and tramples under foot the Lamb of God 
when, as the Apostlesays,||hedoesnot distinguish 
nor discern the Holy Bread of Christ from other 
food and other works when he eats unworthily, 
or, being in a state of grace, communicates with- 
out any profit. The Lord says by His prophet: 
"Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord 
deceitfully."** And He despises the priests who 
will not strive heartily to avoid these faults: "I 
will curse," said He, "your blessings." 

Listen, my brothers. If the Most Blessed Vir- 
gin Mary is honoured as she deserves for having 

*Luke xxii, 19. 1 1 Cor. xi, 27. tCf. Heb. x, 28. 
§Heb. x, 29. || 1 Cor. xi, 29. **Jer. xlviii, 10. 

5 



66 The Writings of St Francis 

borne the Lord in her virginal womb; if the 
blessed John the Baptist trembled, fearing - to 
put his hand on the head of the Max-God; if the 
tomb where He reposed a few hours is venerated, 
— how much more then should he be considered 
holy, just and worthy who touches with his hands, 
who takes into his mouth and heart, who gives to 
others the Christ no longer mortal but for 
evermore a glorious Victor, the object of the 
angels' adoration! 

Consider your dignity, O brothers who are 
priests, and be holy because He is holy.* And 
even as the Lord God has honoured you above 
all others through this mystery, even so do you 
also love, honour and adore Him the more. It is 
a great misfortune and a miserable fault to have 
Him thus so near you and to be thinking of any- 
thing else in the whole world. May the whole 
man be seized with dread, may the whole world 
tremble, may the Heavens exult when, in the 
hands of the priests, the Christ the Son of the 
Living God descends upon the Altar. O amazing 
splendour, astounding condescension ! O sublime 
humility! O humble sublimity! The Master ot 
the Universe, God Himself and Son of God, 
humbles Himself so far as to hide Himselt 
for our salvation under the feeble appearance ot 
bread! See, brothers, the humility of God and 
"pour out your hearts before Him," humble 
yourselves in your turn that you may be exalted 
by Him. Keep nothing of yourselves tor your- 
selves, so that He may possess you entirely who 
has given Himself wholly to you. 
* Levit. xi, 44. 



Letter to the Chapter-General 67 

III. Celebrate only one Mass a Day. 

I THEREFORE warn my friars, I beseech 
them in the Lord, that in the places where 
they dwell only one Mass a day shall be cele 
brated, according to the rite of Holy Church.* 
If, however, there are many priests, let one be 
content through love and charity to hear Mass 
from the other, because the Lord Jesus Christ 
makes up to all who are worthy, present or ab- 
sent. He is found in many places and yet is not 
divided, He does not suffer any diminution, He 
is the same Only One everywhere, working as 
He pleases with the Lord God the Father and 
the Holy Spirit the Comforter, throughout all 
ages. Amen. 

IV. On Respect for the Holy Scriptures. 

AND because "He that is of God heareth 
the words of God,"| we must therefore, we 
who are specially entrusted with divine offices, 
not only hear but perform the word of God, and 
further, to imbue ourselves the more with the 
grandeur of our Creator and with our subjection 
towards Him, take great care of the sacred vessels 
and other things of which we make use to con- 
tain His words. Therefore, I warn all my friars, 
and I strengthen them in Christ, wherever 
they may find these written words, to venerate 
them as well as they can; and as it concerns 
them, if these words are not kept with care, or 
if they lie scattered about in some unfitting 
place, let the friars gather them together and 
put them in a worthy place, honouring in them 
the Lord who spoke them. Many things indeed 

*These last words refer to the rite of the Roman Church 
to be followed in the celebration of Mass, and not to the 
one Mass to be celebrated daily. 

t John viii, 47. 

5* 



68 The Writings of St Francis 

are sanctified by the word of God, and by virtue 
of the words of Christ the Sacrament of the 
altar is effected. 

V. Confession. 

MOREOVER, I confess all my sins to God 
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to the 
ever-blessed Mary, Virgin, to all the saints in 
heaven and on earth, to the Minister-General ot 
our Order as to my revered lord, to all the priests 
of our Order and to all my other blessed brothers. 
In many points I have sinned through my own 
fault, especially because I have not observed 
the Rule which I have promised to the Lord, 
not saying the Office according to the prescrip- 
tions of this Rule, either through negligence, 
sickness, ignorance or simplicity. 

VI. On the Rule, the Office and Singing. 

I EARNESTLY beseech my master, Brother 
Elias, Minister-General, to see that all ob- 
serve the Rule inviolably ; let the clerks say the 
Office devoutly before God, paying no attention 
to the melody of the voice, but to the union ot 
the heart; let the voice be united to the thought, 
and the thought to God; that they may all, 
by the purity of their conscience, please God, 
and not soothe the ears of others by the volup- 
tuousness of their voice. As for me, I promise, 
as the Lord shall give me grace, strictly to ob- 
serve these points, and I shall leave it to the 
brothers who are with me to observe all these 
rules in discharging the Office and other regular 
exercises. But if any friars refuse to observe 
them, I shall no longer regard them as Catho- 
lics nor as brothers; I do not wish to see them 
nor speak to them, until they have done penance. 
And I say the same of all others who go wander- 



Letter to a Minister 69 

ing about neglecting the Rule and discipline: 
our Lord Jesus Christ gave His life lest He 
might fall short of obedience to His most holy 
Father. 

I, Brother Francis, an unprofitable and un- 
worthy creature of the Lord God, in the Lord 
Jesus Christ, beseech Brother Elias, Minister 
of our whole religion, all minister-generals who 
shall come after him, all other custodians and 
guardians of friars, present and to come, to keep 
this writing in their possession, to respect it 
diligently and to put it into practice. And I beg 
them jealously to guard what is contained 
therein, and to cause it to be diligently ob- 
served, as long as the world shall last, accord- 
ing to the good pleasure of almighty God. 

Blessed be ye in the Lord, ye who shall have 
done so, and may the Lord be with you through 
all eternity. Amen. 

LETTER III 
To a Minister 

TO Brother N, Minister, may the Lord bless 
you. 
I admonish you as best I can on the subject, 
of your salvation: the hindrances to your love 
of the Lord God, the persons who annoy you, 
brothers or others, even if they should go so far 
as to strike you, all this you should regard as a 
favour. Desire only that and nothing else.* 

* M His whole philosophy,'' says Celano of St Francis, 
"his whole desire as long as he lived, his sole wish 
was constantly to seek, among- wise and simple, perfect 
and imperfect, the means to walk in the way of truth 
and to become more perfect.'' — i Cel. p. 95, Edouard 
d'Alenc.on edition. 



70 The Writings of St Francis 

Accomplish it by the spirit of true obedience 
towards the Lord God and towards me, for I 
know assuredly that in that is true obedience. 
Love those who act in this way towards you, 
and desire from them only what the Lord shall 
teach you to look for; let your love occupy itsell 
in wishing- them to be better Christians. Seek 
that rather than a hermitage. I wish that the 
means of knowing if you love the Lord and it 
you love me, His servant and yours, may con- 
sist in observing these counsels: Should there 
anywhere be a brother who comes to seek you, 
let him not go away, however guilty he may be, 
without a word of compassion, since he comes 
for a little. And if he does not ask for pardon, 
go yourself and ask him if he does not wish to 
have it. And even if he should come to you a 
thousand times afterwards, love him more than 
me, to draw him to the Lord, and always have 
pity on him. And tell the guardians, when you 
can, that you for your part have decided always 
to ac~t in that way. 

Of all the chapters of the Order which deal 
with mortal sins, with the help of the Lord at 
the Pentecostal Chapter, and with the friars, 
we shall make a single chapter thus drawn up: 
If any brother, at the instigation of the enemy, 
sins mortally under obedience, let him be bound 
to have recourse to his guardian. And let all the 
brothers who know his fault beware of speaking 
ill of him or of making him ashamed, but let 
them shew great kindness to him and keep the 
sin of their brother well hidden: "They that are 
in health need not a physician, but they that are 
sick."* Likewise they must send him to his 
guardian with a companion. And let the guar- 
*Matt. ix, 12. 



Letter to the Rulers 7 1 

dian receive him with kindness and deal with 
him as he himself would like to be dealt with in 
a similar case. 

And if a brother commits a venial sin, let him 
confess to one of his brother priests; and if 
there is not one, let him confess to any other 
brother, until he finds a priest to absolve him 
canonically, as before said.* And confessors 
have absolutely no right to impose any other 
penance than this: "Go, and sin no more."f 

Keep this writing with you until Pentecost, 
so that it may be the better observed. You will 
be at the Chapter with your brothers. And with 
the help of the Lord you must endeavour to 
obtain enlightenment on these points and those 
which are less explicit in the Rule. 

LETTER IV 
To the Rulers of the People 

BROTHER FRANCIS, your wretched little 
servant in the Lord God, to all the chiefs, 
consuls, judges and governors of all countries, 
to all who shall receive this letter, wishes all 
salvation and peace. 

Consider and see that the day of death draws 
nigh. J I beg you then, with all possible respect, 
not to forget the Lord nor to swerve from His 
commandments in the midst of the cares and 
anxieties of this world: all who forget Him and 
err from His commandments are cursed, and He 
will forget them also. And when the day or 
death comes, all that they think that they possess 
will be taken from them, and the more powerful 

* In Chapter xx of the first Rule. 

t John viii, n. J Cf. Gen. xlvii, 29. 



72 The Writings of St Francis 

and wise they were in this world the more bitter 
will be their torments in hell. 

Also I counsel you urgently, my lords, to cast 
aside all care and anxiety, and lovingly to re- 
ceive the most holy Body and Blood of our 
Lord Jesus Christ in holy remembrance of 
Him. And let endless homage be paid to the 
Lord by the people entrusted to you; every 
evening let the time to give thanks and praise 
to the almighty Lord God be announced to all 
the people by a crier or by some other means. 
And if you do not a£t in this way, remember 
that you must give account at the Day of Judge- 
ment of your Lord God Jesus Christ. Let those 
who carry upon their persons and observe this 
writing, know that they are blessed by the Lord 
God. 

LETTER V 
To Clerks, on Reverence to the Body 
of the LORD and the Cleanliness 
of the Altar 

PAY heed, all ye clerks, to the great sin and 
ignorance of some, respecting the most holy 
Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 
most sacred names and the written words of the 
Consecration. We know that the Body cannot 
exist until after these words of Consecration. And 
we possess nothing, we see nothing of the Most 
High in this world, except His Body and His 
Blood, the Name and the Word which created 
us and bought us back from death to life. 

Let all clerks then who administer such holy 
mysteries, and especially those who do so lightly, 
carefully examine how poor are the chalices, cor- 
porals and linen employed in the consecration of 



Letter to Clerks 73 

the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Many leave It in unworthy places, carry It 
irreverently along- the way, receive It unworthily 
and administer It to others carelessly.* His 
titles and written words are sometimes trodden 
underfoot, for "The sensual man perceiveth not 
these things that are of the Spirit of GoD."f 

Shall we not by all these things be moved with 
piety when the good Lord places Himself in 
our hands, and we handle Him and receive Him 
daily? Do we not know that we must needs fall 
into His hands? 

Come, let us quickly and resolutely correct 
these and other faults. Whenever the most holy 
Body of our Lord Jesus Christ has been left 
or neglected culpably, let It be taken away and 
placed in a sacred spot. Likewise if the names 
of God and His written words are found in an 
unworthy place, let them be g-athered up and 
put in an honourable one. And we know well 
that we are specially bound to observe all these 
rules, because of the precepts of the Lord and 
the constitutions of our holy Mother the 
Church. And whosoever does not a6l thus, let 
him know that he must give account at the Day 
of Judgement before our Lord Jesus Christ. 
And whoever shall publish these writings with 
the view of their more perfect, observance, let 
him know that he will receive the blessing- or 
the Lord. 

* A saying of St Francis, handed down by Celano: 
"When you pray, say, 'Our Father,' and, ' We adore 
Thee, O Christ, both here and in all churches which are 
on the earth, and we bless Thee for having- redeemed 
the world by Thy holy Cross.'" — I Cel. p. 47, Edouard 
d'Alen^on edition. 

t See 1 Cor. ii, 14. 



74 The Writings of St Francis 

LETTER VI 
To all the Guardians (I) 

BROTHER FRANCIS, your little servant in 
the Lord God greets all the Guardians ot 
the Friars Minor who shall receive this letter, 
in the name of these new signs in heaven and 
earth* which are great and excellent in the eyes 
of God, and which many religious and other men 
do not comprehend. 

I implore you more than if it were a question 
of myself, when necessary and when it seems 
good to you, to beseech the clerks in all humi- 
lity to do their duty and to venerate above all else 
the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, His holy Name, His written words and 
the form of Consecration. Let them hold as pre- 
cious the chalices, corporals, the ornaments of 
the altar and all that pertains to the Sacrament 
as sacred. And if in any place the most holy 
Body of the Lord is meanly lodged, let them 
according to the Church take it with the utmost 
veneration and place it in a costly place and ad- 
minister it with prudence to others. As to the 
Names and the written words of the Lord, let 
them gather them up, and place them in a clean 
spot if they should anywhere find them in dirty 
places. 

And whenever you preach, tell the people to 
repent, warn them that they cannot be saved 
except by receiving- the most holy Body and 
Blood of the Lord. And during the priestly 
sacrifice at the altar, when It is carried about, 
let every one, kneeling, offer praise, honour and 
glory to the true and living Lord God. 

* Alluding to the mysteries of the Eucharist. 



Letter to Guardians 75 

Announce and preach His splendours to all, so 
that all throughout the whole earth, at every 
moment and at the sound of bells, shall always 
give thanks and adoration to the Almighty God. 

And let all my brothers who are guardians, 
and shall receive this writing, keep it and give 
it to the other friars; let all those who hold the 
office of preaching or the guardianship of the 
friars have this letter copied, and let them preach 
to the end all that is contained therein, and let 
them know that they will have the blessing of 
the Lord God and mine. And let these be for 
them in virtue of true and holy obedience. Amen. 



LETTER VII 
To all the Guardians (II) 

BROTHER FRANCIS, the least oi the 
servants of God, greeting and holy peace in 
the Lord to all the Guardians of the Friars 
Minor who shall receive this letter. 

Know that in the eyes of God there are very 
high and sublime things which are sometimes 
considered vile and mean by men; others, on the 
contrary, are precious and noteworthy in their 
eyes which God reckons contemptible and re- 
pulsive. I beg of you before the Lord our God, 
I implore you to give my letter, which treats ot 
the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord,* to 
the bishops and other clerks and learn by heart 
what I there recommend. As to the other letter 
(Letter IV), which I send you to give to the 
Rulers, consuls and rectors, and wherein they 
are bidden to have the praises of God celebrated 
by the people in public places, have it imme- 
* Alluding to Letter V. 



76 The Writings of St Francis 

diately copied in great numbers and make haste 
to give it to those for whom it is intended. 
Greeting in the Lord. 

LETTER VIII 
To Brother Leo 

BROTHER LEO, wish to thy Brother Fran- 
cis salvation and peace ! 
Yes, I speak to thee, my son, as a mother, 
and all that we have said on the way I will re- 
sume and say it again briefly in this letter. And 
if in time to come it should be necessary for you 
to come and ask my advice, this is what I coun- 
sel you : Whatever manner of acting seems to 
you the best in which to please the Lord God 
and to follow His steps and His poverty, em- 
brace it with the blessing of the Lord God and 
in My obedience. And if for thy soul's sake or 
for any other motive of consolation, thou hast 
need to come to me, my Leo, and dost desire it, 
come.* 

* This letter should be compared with that to Brother 
Ricerius, I Cel. pp. 51, 52, Iidouard d'Alencon edition. 
This brother was tempted; St Francis bade him come 
to him, and said: "Let no temptation trouble you, my 
son, let no thoug-ht worry you; you are infinitely dear to 
me, and know that among the dearest you are worthy Oi 
my affection and my friendship. In all confidence come 
to me when you wish and always reckon on my complete 
sympathy." 



77 



On the Religious who dwell in a 
Hermitage 

LET those friars who wish to live religiously 
in hermitages be three together or four a 
the most. Let two of them play the part ot 
mothers and the other two that of children, or 
one of them at least. Let the two first lead the 
life of Martha and the two others the life of 
Mary Magdalene. 

Let all those who shall lead the life of Mary 
have a cloister, and let each have his cell, and 
they must not live or sleep together. Let them 
say Compline every day when the sun is setting; 
let them be diligent in keeping silence, let them 
say their hours and rise at Matins, and let them 
seek "first the kingdom of God and His jus- 
tice."* And at the proper time they must say 
Prime and Terce, and after Terce they need not 
keep silence but may go and speak with their 
mothers, and, if they wish, they may ask alms 
from them for the love of the Lord God, like 
the little poor. And afterwards they must 
recite Sext, None and Vespers at the hour 
desired. 

And in the cloister wherein they dwell they 
must let no one enter or eat. And the friars who 
play the part of mothers must take care to avoid 
all strangers and through obedience of their 
minister keep every one from their children and 
let no one speak to them. And these children 
must not hold conversations with anyone except 
* Luke xii, 31. 



78 The Writings of St Francis 

with their mothers or with their guardian when 
he shall be pleased to visit them, with the bless- 
ing of God. Let the children sometimes take the 
place of the mothers in turn, in whatever way 
they like to arrange it. And let all be diligent in 
faithfully and earnestly observing this counsel. 



79 



The Sheet which St Francis gave to 
Brother Leo 

Praises of God. 

THOU, Lord and God, art holy, who only 
workest marvels. Thou art strong. Thou 
art great. Thou art the Most High. Thou art 
the all-powerful King, the holy Father, the Lord 
of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God, 
Three in one, the Universal Good. Thou art 
Goodness, universal and supreme, the true and 
living Lord God. Thou art Benevolence and 
Love. Thou art Wisdom. Thou art Humility. 
Thou art Patience. Thou art Security. Thou art 
Peace. Thou art Joy and Gladness. Thou art 
Justice and Temperance. Thou art all Riches 
which satisfy. [The following words down to 
the Benediction are not read in the original:] 
Thou art Beauty. Thou art Grace. Thou art our 
Protector. Thou art our Keeper and Defender. 
Thou art our Might. Thou art our Refreshment. 
Thou art our Hope. Thou art our Confidence. 
Thou art our immense Sweetness. Thou art our 
Life eternal, our great and adorable Lord, Al- 
mighty God, merciful Saviour. 

The Benediction of Brother Leo. 

MAY the Lord bless thee and keep thee. 
May He shew His face to thee, and have 
mercy on thee. May He turn His countenance to 
thee and give thee peace.* God bless thee, 
Brother Leo T. 

[To these words Brother Leo added in red ink: 
" The most blessed Francis, two years before 



80 The Writings of St Francis 

his death, passed Lent at Alverna in honour ot 
the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, 
and of the most blessed Archangel Michael, from 
the feast of the Assumption of the holy Virgin 
Mary to the feast of St Michael in September. 
And upon him was laid the hand of the Lord. 
After the vision and conversation with the Sera- 
phim, after the impression of the wounds ot 
Christ on his body, he composed these praises 
and wrote them on the back of this little page 
with his own hand, giving thanks to the Lord 
for the favour granted to him."] 

Prayer "God Almighty" 

GOD Almighty, Eternal, Just and Merciful, 
grant to us, miserable sinners, grace to do 
for Thee what we know to be Thy will, and to 
wish always what pleases Thee, so that inwardly 
purified, inwardly enlightened and kindled with 
the fire of the Holy Spirit, we may follow the 
footsteps of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, 
and attain to Thee through Thy Grace alone, 
O most High, who in perfect Trinity and abso- 
lute Unity livest and reignest gloriously, God 
Almighty, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen. 



8i 



Lauds 

Explanation of the " Pater." 

HERE begin the Praises which the most 
blessed Father St Francis composed; he 
used to recite them at all hours of the day and 
nig-ht and before the Office of the most Blessed 
Virgin Mary. They begin thus: "Our Father, 
most holy," and are followed by the Gloria 
Patri and the praises: "Holy, Holy, Holy," etc. 

Our Father most holy, our Creator, Re- 
deemer, Saviour and Comforter. 

Who art in heaven : in the angels and in 
the saints, illuminating them to give them 
knowledge, for Thou art Light, O Lord; inflam- 
ing them unto love, for Thou, O Love, art Love; 
dwelling in them and loading them with happi- 
ness, for Thou art, O Lord, the sovereign Good, 
eternal goodness, whence comes all good, with- 
out whom no good exists. 

Hallowed be Thy Name: may Thy kingdom 
shine in us so that we may know the greatness 
of Thy benefits, the breadth of Thy promises, 
the height of Thy Majesty and the depth ot 
Thy judgements.* 

Thy kingdom come: so that Thou mayest 
reign in us by Thy grace and mayest make us 
enter into Thy kingdom, where Thou art clearly 
seen, where there is the perfecl love of Thee, 
the blessed company of Thee, the eternal enjoy- 
ment of Thee. 

*Cf. Eph. iii, 1 8. 

6 



82 The Writings of St Francis 

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven: 
How we love Thee with all our heart, thinking 
always of Thee, with our whole soul desiring 
Thee always, with our whole mind directing all 
our thoughts towards Thee, seeking Thine 
honour in everything-, and with all our might 
submitting- our faculties and our sense of soul 
and body to the obedience of Thy love alone: 
let us love our neighbour as ourselves, let us 
draw as best we can all the world to the love ot 
Thee, let us rejoice at the good of others as 
though it were our own, let us sympathize with 
misfortune and never offend anyone. 

Give us this day our daily bread: Thy dear 
Son our Lord Jesus Christ, to remind us of, to 
make us understand and venerate the love which 
He had for us and all He has said, done and 
suffered for us. 

And forgive us our trespasses: By Thine in- 
effable mercy, in virtue of the Passion of Thifre 
dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ, through the 
merits and intercession ot the most blessed 
Virgin Mary and of all Thine elect. 

As we forgive them that trespass against us: 
And as we do not fully forgive, grant, O Lord, 
that we may forgive completely, that we may 
truly love our enemies for Thy sake, that we 
may pray to Thee devoutly for them, that we 
may render to no man evil for evil, and that we 
may strive to be useful to every one for Thy sake. 

And lead us not into te?nptation, hidden or 
manifest, sudden or importunate. 

But deliver us from evil, past, present and 
to come. Amen. 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to 
the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is 
now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 



Lauds 83 

11 Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who 
was, and who is, and who is to come."* Praise 
Him and exalt Him above all for ever.f 

Worthy Thou art to receive all praise, glory, 
honour and blessing.:}: Praise Him and exalt 
Him above all for ever. 

"The Lamb that was slain is worthy to re- 
ceive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and 
strength, and honour, and glory, and bene- 
diaion."§ 

Let us bless the Father, the Son and the 
Holy Spirit. Praise Him and exalt Him above 
all for ever. 

"All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: 
Praise and exalt Him above all for ever. "|| 

"Give praise to our God, all ye his servants, 
and you that fear Him little and great. "U Praise 
Him and exalt Him above all for ever. 

Let heaven and earth, and "every creature, 
which is in heaven, on the earth and under the 
earth, the sea and all that is in it, praise this 
glorious God.** Praise Him and exalt Him above 
all for ever. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and 
to the Holy Ghost. Praise Him and exalt Him 
above all for ever. 

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever 
shall be, world without end. Amen. Praise Him 
and exalt Him above all for ever. 

* Apoc. iv, 8. f Cf. Dan. iii, 57. | Cf. Apoc. iv, II. 

Apoc. v, 12. II Dan. iii, 57. IT Apoc. xix, 5. 

** Cf. Apoc. v, 13. 



6a 



84 The Writings of St Francis 

Prayer. 

SOVEREIGN GOD Almighty, Most Holy and 
Most High, Supreme Goodness, Universal 
Goodness, the absolute Good, who alone art 
Good, we offer Thee all praise, all glory, all 
deeds of grace, all honour, all blessing, and we 
give Thee thanks continually for all good which 
exists. Amen 



85 



Salutation of the Most Blessed Virgin 

HAIL, O Blessed Lady, Queen most holy, 
Mother of God, Mary, perpetual Virgin, 
chosen from the highest Heaven by the most 
Holy Father, consecrated by Him and by 
His most holy, dear Son and Spirit, the Con- 
soler, you in whom are found and in whom 
dwell the fullness of grace and universal good. 
Hail, palace of God! Hail, temple of God! Hail, 
house of the Lord! Hail, clothing of the Lord! 
Hail, handmaid of the Lord! Hail, Mother of 
God! Hail, O all ye holy virtues, which by the 
grace and illumination of the Holy Spirit you 
infuse in the heart of the faithful, and make of 
the faithless the disciples of God !* 

Salutation of the Virtues 

HAIL, O Wisdom, O Queen, may the Lord 
keep thee and thy sister holy and pure Sim- 
plicity! Lady holy Poverty, may the Lord keep 
thee, thee and thy sister holy Humility! Holy 
Lady Charity, may the Lord keep thee, thee 
and thy sister holy Obedience ! O all you most 

* In different editions this prayer is followed by this 
other prayer to the Virgin : " Holy Mother of God, who 
art fair and gentle, invoke for us thy most sweet Son 
our Lord Jesus Christ, so that by His very pitiful mercy 
and the virtue of His most holy Incarnation and very 
cruel death He may forgive us our sins. Amen." It is 
given thus in the Speculum of 1509. Cf. Sabatier, Opusc. 
de Crit. Hist., II, 164. But at the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century, Spoelberch's edition of the Speculum 
(First part, pp. 176-178) no longer gives this text. Cf. 
Wadding, Opusc. p. 107. 



86 The Writings of St Francis 

holy Virtues, may the Lord keep you, He is your 
source and from Him you come. There is abso- 
lutely not one man in this world who can possess 
a single one of them without first dying to him- 
self. He who possesses one, if he does not hurt 
any of the others, possesses them all; he who 
hurts one, possesses none and offends them all. 
Each one of them puts vices and sins to confu- 
sion. Holy Wisdom confounds Satan and all his 
devices. Pure and holy Simplicity confounds all 
the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the 
flesh. Holy Poverty confounds all covetousness, 
avarice and conformity to this world. Holy 
Humility confounds pride and all men of this 
world and all that is in the world. Holy Charity 
confounds all diabolical and carnal temptations, 
all fear of nature. Holy Obedience confounds all 
the wishes of the body and of the flesh, it keeps 
the body in mortification ready to obey the 
spirit, ready to obey its brother; it makes a 
man submissive to all men of this w T orld, and 
not only to men, but also to animals and savage 
beasts which can do what they will with him, so 
long as it may be granted to them from above 
by the Lord. 

Prayer to obtain Love 

LORD, I pray Thee, that the burning and 
delicious ardour of Thy love may detach my 
soul from all things which are under heaven, so 
that I may die for love of Thy love, O Thou who 
for love of my love hast deigned to die. * 

* At the beginning of his illness St Francis was obliged 
to relax the severity of his mortifications, but he still said : 
"Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up 
to now we have done nothing good at all or scarcely any- 
thing." — I Cel. p. 108, Edouard d'Alencon edition. 



87 



The Office of the Lord's Passion 

HERE begin the Psalms which our most 
blessed Father Francis arranged to honour, 
commemorate and praise the Passion of the 
Lord. They begin at Compline on the Thursday 
of the Lord's Supper, because on that night our 
Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed and taken. 
And note that the most blessed Francis recited 
this Office thus : first he said the prayer that our 
Lord and Master taught us, "Our Father, 
most holy," etc., with the praises: "Holy, Holy, 
Holy."* 

d,The lauds and prayer finished, he began with 
the antiphon, "Holy Virgin Mary," etc. With 
the antiphon first and last, the Office was finished. 

i 

At Compline. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O God, I have declared my life to 
Thee : Thou hast set my tears in Thy sight. 

All my enemies seek to do me evil : they have 
met together in council to do so. 

They have rendered evil for good and hatred 
or my affection. 

Instead of loving me they scorned me, I my- 
self prayed for them. 

O my Holy Father, King of heaven and 
earth, do not forsake me: tribulation is nigh, and 
there is no one to help. 

My enemies turn their backs upon me when- 
* Cf, pp. 93. 94. 



88 The Writings of St Francis 

ever I cry to Thee: but I know that Thou art 
my God. 

My friends and my relations drew nigh and 
rose up against me: my neighbours stood afar 
off. 

Thou hast put far away from me those that 
know me, they have looked upon me as an ob- 
ject of horror: I was delivered up and came not 
forth. 

Holy Father, take not from me Thy help : O 
my God, look upon me and help me. 

Attend unto my help, Lord, the God of my 
salvation. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and 
to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, 
is now, and ever shall be, world without end. 
Amen. 

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary, there is none in the 
world like unto thee born in the world among 
women, daughter and handmaid of the Most 
High King, the Heavenly Father, mother of 
our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of 
the Holy Spirit; pray for us, with St Michael 
the Archangel and all the virtues of heaven and 
all the Saints around your dear and most holy 
Son, our Lord and Master. 

Glory be to the Father, etc. 

d/This antiphon is said at all the Hours, it 
serves as antiphon, little chapter, hymn, verse 
and collect, at Matins and at all the other Hours. 
The most blessed Francis said nothing else ex- 
cept this antiphon and the psalms for his Hours. 
Ct,At the end of the Office he said : ■ ' Let us bless 
the living and true God: praise, honour, glory 
and blessing and all good let us attribute to 
Him always. Amen. Fiat, fiat." 



Office of the Lord's Passion 89 

At Matins. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O Lord God of my salvation, I 
have cried before Thee day and night. 

Let my prayer come in before Thee: incline 
Thine ear to my petition. 

Pity my soul and deliver it : save me because 
of mine enemies. 

For Thou, who hast drawn me out of the 
womb, Thou art my hope from the breasts of 
my mother: from my birth I have been cast into 
Thine arms. 

Thou art my God from my mother's womb, 
be not far from me. 

Thou knowest my troubles, the awe and re- 
verence I have for Thee. 

All my persecutors are before Thee : my heart 
awaits shame and misery. 

I looked for one that would grieve together 
with me: I sought a comforter, and found none. 

God, the wicked have risen up against me, 
the multitude of the mighty have sought to ruin 
my soul: they have not set Thee before their 
eyes. 

1 am counted among them that go down to 
the pit, I am become as a man without help, 
free among the dead. 

Thou art my most holy Father, my King and 
my God. 

Attend unto me to help me, Lord God of my 
salvation. 

Glory be to the Father, etc. 

A?it. Holy Virgin Mary, etc. 



90 The Writings of St Francis 

At Prime. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Have mercy on me, O God, have 
mercy on me : for my soul trusteth in Thee. 

And in the shadow of Thy wings will I hope, 
until iniquity pass away. 

I will cry to God the Most High : to God who 
hath done good to me. 

He hath sent from heaven and delivered me, 
He hath covered my persecutors with shame. 

God hath sent His power and His truth, He 
hath delivered my soul from the fury of mine 
enemies and of those who hated me : they made 
themselves strong against me. 

They laid snares for my feet, and have threat- 
ened my life. 

They dug a pit before my tace, and they are 
fallen into it. 

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. 
I will sing and rehearse a psalm. 

Arise, O my glory, arise psaltery and harp: I 
will arise early. 

I will give praise to Thee, O Lord, among the 
people: I will sing a psalm to Thee among the 
nations. 

For Thy mercy is magnified even to the hea- 
vens, and Thy truth unto the clouds.* 

Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, 
and Thy glory above all the earth. 

Glory be to the Father, etc. 

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary, etc. 

d,And so are concluded also the remaining 
Hours. 

* Cf. Psalms xvii and lvi. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 91 

At Terce. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Have mercy on me, O God, for 
man hath trodden me underfoot: all day long- 
he has afflicted me, fighting against me. 

All day long have mine enemies trodden me 
underfoot, they fought against me in great 
numbers. 

All mine enemies have sought me to hurt me, 
they have desired evil against me. 

Those who defended me have taken counsel 
together against me. 

They went out and talked together. 

At the sight of me all mocked, they moved 
their lips and shook their heads. 

As for me I am a worm and no man, the scorn 
of men and the outcast of the people. 

I am become a reproach among all my ene- 
mies and very much to my neighbours, and a 
fear to my acquaintance. 

Holy Father, take not Thy help from me, 
watch over me to protect me. 

Attend unto my help, O Lord God ot my 
salvation. 

Glory be to the Father, etc. 

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary, etc. 

At Sext. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psahn. I have raised my voice to the Lord, 
I have presented my prayer to the Lord. 

I have offered my supplications before Him, 
and told Him my troubles. 

My courage fails me, Thou knowest the paths 
I have followed. 

In the way in which I walked they laid a 
snare for me. 



92 The Writings of St Francis 

I looked to the right and searched, but no one 
knew me. 

Flight hath failed me, and there is no one that 
hath regard to my soul. 

For Thy sake I have borne reproach; shame 
hath covered my face. 

I am become a stranger to my brethren, and 
an alien to the sons of my mother. 

Holy Father, the zeal of Thy house hath 
eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that 
reproached Thee are fallen upon me. 

They rejoiced and assembled themselves to- 
gether against me; scourges were gathered 
together upon me, and I knew not. 

They are become more numerous than the 
hairs of my head; they hated me without a 
cause. 

My enemies and unjust persecutors have 
grown strong : then did I pay that which I took 
not away. 

False witnesses have risen up, they asked me 
things that I knew not. 

They returned me evil for good, they spake 
evil of me because I followed goodness. 

Thou art my Father Most Holy, my King 
and my God. 

Attend unto my help, Lord God of my sal- 
vation. * 

Glory be to the Father, etc. 

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary, etc. 

At None. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O all ye that pass by the way, at- 
tend and see if there be any sorrow like to my 
sorrow. 

* See Pss. cxli, lxviii, xxxiv, xxxvii. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 93 

For many dogs have encompassed me, a 
crowd of wicked ones have fallen upon me. 

They looked and stared upon me ; they parted 
my garments among them, and drew lots for 
my vesture. 

They pierced my hands and my feet, they 
counted all my bones. 

They opened their mouth at me like a raven- 
ing and roaring lion. 

I am poured out like water, and all my bones 
are scattered. 

My heart is become like wax melting in the 
midst of my bowels. 

My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and 
my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws. 

They gave me gall for my food, and in my 
thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 

They brought me to the dust of death, and 
they have added to the grief of my wounds. 

But I slept and rose up again, and my most 
holy Father received me with glory. 

Holy Father, thou hast taken my right hand, 
thou hast directed me according to thy will, and 
thou hast raised me to thy glory. 

For what have I in Heaven? and besides 
Thee what do I desire upon earth? 

See, see that I am God, saith the Lord: I 
shall be exalted in the midst of the nations, I 
shall be exalted on the earth. 

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath 
redeemed the souls of His servants with His 
own most holy blood. None of those who hope 
in Him shall perish. 

And we know that He cometh: He will come 
to judge justice 



94 The Writings of St Francis 

At Vespers. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O all ye nations, clap your hands, 
praise God with cries of gladness. 

He is the Lord most high and terrible, the 
King of all the earth. 

Our most holy, heavenly Father, our King, 
who before all ages hath sent from on high His 
dear Son, hath wrought our salvation in the 
midst of the earth. 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, 
let the sea leap with all that is in it: let the 
fields be joyful with all they bring forth. 

Sing unto Him a new song, let the earth 
praise the Lord. 

For the Lord is great and worthy of praise: 
He is more to be feared than all gods. 

Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the 
Gentiles, bring to the Lord glory and honour, 
bring to the Lord the glory due to His Name. 

Bring your own bodies and bear His holy 
Cross, and follow to the end His most holy pre- 
cepts. 

Let all the earth be moved at His presence, 
proclaim to all nations that the Lord hath 
reigned. 

d,The preceding verses are said every day from 
Good Friday to the Ascension. At the Ascension 
these are added: 

He has gone up to Heaven and sits at the 
right hand of His most holy Father in Heaven. 

Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, 
may Thy glory be on all the earth. 

And we know that He cometh: that He 
cometh to judge with justice.* 

* Cf. Pss. xlvi, xcv. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 95 

ft From Ascension to Advent this Psalm, M O 
all ye nations," is said in this way with the 
verses following - , the " Gloria Patri " is added 
at the end of the psalm after u He shall come 
to judge with justice." 

ft These Psalms are said from Good Friday to 
the Sunday of the Resurrection: also from the 
octave of Pentecost to Advent and from the 
octave of the Epiphany to Holy Thursday, ex- 
cept on Sundays and the greater festivals when 
they are not said; otherwise they are said every 
day. 

11 

At Compline on Holy Saturday. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm^ O God, come to my assistance; 
Lord, make haste to help me. 

Let them be confounded and ashamed that 
seek my soul. 

Let them be turned backward, and blush ior 
shame that desire evils to me. 

Let them be presently turned away blushing 
for shame that say to me: 'Tis well, 'tis well. 

Let all that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in 
Thee; and let such as love Thy salvation say 
always: The Lord be magnified. 

But I am needy and poor; O God, help me. 

Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O 
Lord, make no delay.* 

ft This psalm is said every day at Compline till 
the octave of Pentecost. 

* Psalm lxix. 



g6 The Writings of St Francis 

At Matins on Easter Sunday. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Sing- ye to the Lord a new canticle, 
for He hath done wonderful things. 

His right hand hath sanctified His Son, and 
His arm is holy. 

The Lord hath made known His salvation : He 
hath revealed His justice in the sight of the Gen- 
tiles. 

On this day the Lord hath commanded His 
mercy, and a canticle to Him in the night. 

This is the day that the Lord hath made : let 
us exult and rejoice in it. 

Blessed is He who cometh in the name of the 
Lord: it is our Lord God, He hath shone 
upon us. 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, 
let the sea be moved and the fullness thereof, 
let the fields be joyful with all that are in them. 

Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the 
Gentiles, bring to the Lord glory and honour, 
bring to the Lord the glory due unto His name. 

d. The above is said from Easter Sunday to the 
feast of the Ascension every day at all the Hours, 
except at Vespers, Compline and Prime. On the 
night of the Ascension these verses are added : 

Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth : sing 
ye to the Lord, sing ye to God, who mounteth 
above the heaven of heavens, to the east. 

Behold He will give to His voice the voice ot 
power. Give ye glory to God for Israel, His mag- 
nificence, and His power is in the clouds. 

God is wonderful in his saints. The God or 
Israel is He who will give power and strength to 
His people. Blessed be God. * 
* Ps. lxvii, 33-36. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 97 

d. And note that this Psalm from the Ascension 
of the Lord to the octave of Pentecost is said 
every day with these verses, at Matins, Terce, 
Sext and None. The " Gloria Patri" is said after 
11 Blessed be God" and not elsewhere. It is said 
in the same way only at Matins on Sundays and 
the chief feasts, from the octave of Pentecost 
to the Thursday of the Lord's Supper, because 
on this day the Lord ate the Passover with His 
disciples. Another Psalm may be said at Matins 
or at Vespers, if desired, namely: " I will extol 
thee, O Lord," as in the Psalter,* but only on the 
Sunday of the Resurrection and the feast of the 
Ascension. 

At Prime. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Have mercy on me, O God, as 
above, p. go. 

At Terce, Sext and None. 
Psalm. Sing to God, as above, p. 96. 

At Vespers. 

Psalm. O all ye nations, as p. 94. 

in 

HERE begin the other Psalms arranged 
also by our most blessed Father St Francis 
to be recited instead of the preceding on Sundays 
and great Festivals from the octave of the Epi- 
phany to theThursday of the Supper of the Lord. 

At Compline. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O God, come to my assistance, as 
above, p. 95. 

* Ps. xxix. 

7 



98 The Writings of St Francis 

At Matins. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Sing, as above, p. 96. 

At Terce. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Rejoice all before God, ye inhabi- 
tants of the earth, sing a psalm to His Name, 
glorify Him and praise Him.* 

Say unto God, how terrible are Thy works, O 
Lord! The greatness of Thy power shall con- 
found Thine enemies. 

Let all the earth adore Thee and praise Thee, 
let it sing a psalm to Thy Name. 

Come and listen, all ye who fear the Lord, and 
I will tell you what great things He hath done 
for my soul. 

I opened my mouth and cried to Him, my 
tongue hath extolled Him. 

He hath heard my voice from His holy tem- 
ple, my cry has gone up to Him. 

Bless our Lord, ye nations, and let your voices 
be heard to praise Him. 

All the tribes of the earth shall be blessed in 
Him, all nations shall exalt Him. 

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only 
doeth wondrous things. 

And blessed be the name of His Majesty for 
ever, and the whole earth shall be filled with His 
Majesty. Fiat, fiat. 

At Sext. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. May the Lord hear thee in the 
day of trouble, may the name of the God of 
Jacob protect Thee.f 

* Cf. Psalms xvi, lxv and lxxi. 
f Cf. Psalms ix, xix, lviii. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 99 

May He send thee help from the sanctuary, 
and defend thee out of Sion. 

May He be mindful of all thy sacrifices, and 
may thy whole-burnt offering be made fat. 

May He fulfil the desires of thine heart, and 
confirm all thy counsels. 

We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the 
name of our God we shall be exalted. 

May the Lord look favourably on all thy pe- 
titions ; now know I that the Lord hath sent 
His Son Jesus Christ, and that He will judge 
the people with justice. 

The Lord is become a refuge for the poor, a 
helper of the needy and persecuted; and let them 
trust in Thee who know Thy Name. 

Blessed be the Lord my God, He is become 
my help and my refuge in the day of my tribu- 
tion. 

O my helper, I will sing to Thee: God is my 
help and my defence, my God, my mercy. 

At None. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. In Thee, Lord, have I hoped, let 
me never be put to confusion; deliver me in Thy 
justice, and rescue me.* 

Incline Thine ear unto me, and save me. 

Be Thou unto me a God, a protector, and a 
place of strength, that Thou mayest make me 
safe. 

For Thou art my patience, O Lord, my hope, 
Lord, from my youth. 

Upon Thee have I leaned from my mother's 
womb, Thou art my protector ever since I was 
born: of Thee shall I continually sing. 

Let my mouth be filled with Thy praise; that 
* Cf. Psalms lviii, lxviii, lxx. 

fa 



ioo The Writings of St Francis 

I may sing Thy glory and Thy greatness all the 
day long. 

Hear me, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind, 
look upon me according to the multitude of Thy 
tender mercies. 

And turn not away Thy face from Thy child, 
for I am in trouble; hear me speedily. 

Blessed be the Lord my God; He is become 
my helper and my refuge in the day of my tri- 
bulation. 

O my helper, I will sing to Thee; God is my 
defence; my God, my mercy. 

At Vespers. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O all ye nations, as p. 94. 

IV 

HERE begin other Psalms, which our most 
blessed Father Francis likewise arranged. 
They are to be said in place of the foregoing 
ones, from Advent until Christmas Eve, and no 
longer. 

At Compline. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm xii. How long, O Lord, wilt Thou 
forget me unto the end? How long wilt Thou 
hide Thy face from me? 

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, 
having sorrow in my heart all the day? 

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 
Consider and hear me, O Lord, my God. 

Enlighten mine eyes that I sleep not in death, 
lest at any time my enemy say: I have prevailed 
against him. They that trouble me will rejoice 
when I am moved, but I have trusted in Thy 
mercy. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 101 

My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will 
sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bounti- 
fully with me; yea, I will sing to the name of the 
Lord most high. 

At Matins. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. I will praise Thee, O Lord, Father 
most holy, King of heaven and earth, because 
Thou hast comforted me. 

Behold, God is my Saviour. I will deal con- 
fidently and will not fear. 

The Lord is my strength and my praise, and 
is become my salvation. 

Thy right hand, O Lord, is magnified in 
strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath slain 
the enemy, and in the multitude of Thy glory 
Thou hast put down my adversaries. 

Let the poor see and rejoice; seek ye God, and 
your soul shall live. 

Let the heavens and the earth praise him; the 
sea and everything that creepeth therein. 

For God will save Sion, and the cities of Juda 
will He build up. 

And men shall come and dwell there, and ac- 
quire it by inheritance. 

And the seed of the servants of God shall pos- 
sess it, and they that love His name shall dwell 
therein. 

At Prime. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Have mercy of me, as above, p. 90. 

At Terce. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. Rejoice before God, as above, p. 98. 
*Cf. Is. xii: Exod. xv; Psalm lxviii. 



102 The Writings of St Francis 

At Sext. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. May the Lord hear thee, as above, 
p. 98. 

At None. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. In Thee, Lord, have I hoped, as 
above, p. 99. 

At Vespers. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psalm. O all ye nations, as above, p. 94. 

d, Also note that the whole of this psalm is not 
said, but only as far as " Let all the earth 
tremble before Him." After having said the 
whole of the verse, "Prepare your bodies," 
the "Gloria Patri," etc., is added. Vespers are 
recited thus every day from Advent to Christ- 
mas Eve. 

At Vespers on the Nativity of the Lord. 

ANT. Holy Virgin Mary. 
Psahn. Let us magnify God our helper,* 
let us sing to the true and living Lord God 
with shouts of gladness. 

For He is a very great and terrible Lord, the 
supreme King of all the universe. 

For our most holy, heavenly Father, our 
King from all eternity, hath sent from on high 
His only Son, who is born of the most blessed 
and holy Virgin Mary. 

He will say to me: Thou art my Father, 
and I will proclaim Him as My first-begotten 
Son, above the kings of the earth. 

On this day the Lord God hath sent His mercy, 
and the night shall resound with His praises. 
* See especially Pss. xlvi, lxxxviii, xvii, xcv. 



Office of the Lord's Passion 103 

This is the day that the Lord hath made: let 
us rejoice and be glad in it. 

For a dear and very holy child has been given 
to us, He is born for us, on our road, He was 
placed in a manger, because there was no room 
in the inn. 

Glory from the highest heaven to the Lord 
God, and on earth peace to men of good will. 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, 
let the sea make a noise with all that is in it, let 
the fields be joyful with the fullness thereof. 

Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let all the 
earth praise Him. 

For the Lord is great, and exceedingly to be 
praised: He is more terrible than all gods. 

Bring to the Lord, Oye kindreds of the Gen- 
tiles, bring to the Lord glory and honour: bring 
to the Lord glory unto His name. 

Prepare your bodies and bear His holy Cross 
and follow to the end His most holy precepts. 

0»This Psalm is said from Christmas to the 
oclave of the Epiphany at all the Hours. 



104 



DOUBTFUL WRITINGS 

Rule of the Order of Penitents, or of 

the Third Order* 

HERE begins the Rule and the Life of the 
Brothers and Sisters of Penitence. Amen. 
In the name of the Father, and of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Memorial of 
life of the Brothers and Sisters of Penitence 
living in their private houses, begun in the year 
of the Lord, MCCXXI. 

On the first indiction, the 13th of the Calends 
of June, in the time of Pope Gregory IX. f The 
text is as follows: 

I. Concerning Clothing. 

LET the men who shall belong to this frater- 
nity be clothed in poor and colourless gar- 
ments the price of which must not exceed six 
Ravenna sous the brachium,| unless for an ob- 

* This Rule has already been translated into English. 
See Third Orders, by Adderley and Marton. Mowbray. 
1902. 

+ Gregory IX was not pope until 1227. 

XBrachhim means ell. On the subject of the "brachium," 
M. Guilhermoz, whom I consulted, kindly sent me this 
note: "The measure which the Italians call 'bracchio' 
is not, as one would legitimately be temptedto suppose, the 
measure which in France we call ' brasse ' and which is 
an equivalent for ' toise.' It is the measure called in Latin 
'Ulna,' in French 'aune' and in German 'die Elle.' It is not 
exactly known what partofthearmit was intendedto mea- 
sure originally; but it is not improbable that, among the 
Romans, it was equal to two feet, the measure it has 
generally retained in Italy and Germany. But in Italy, 
and elsewhere besides, feet very different one from the 



Rule of the Third Order 105 

vious or necessary reason it has been dispensed 
with for a time. And let them be careful to have 
a cloth somewhat wide and thick, at the same 
price. Let their clothing and furs be fastened 
close to the neck, without a brooch, and not 
like those of worldlings; let their sleeves be also 
closed. 

Let the Sisters wear the same poor cloth of 
like price for their clothing and tunics; but as 
well as their habits let them have at least a pet- 
ticoat or another garment, white or black, or 
an ample plain linen cloak without folds, the 
price of which must not exceed twelve Ravenna 
coins the ell.* With regard to price and furs, 
dispensation can always be granted accord- 
ing to local usage and the condition of the 
sister. They may not wear scarves nor ribbons 
of silk or colour, and the brothers as well as the 
sisters may only wear furs of lamb's wool. They 
may only have leather purses and belts without 
silk embroidery. And they must dispense with 
all ornaments at the discretion of the visitor. 
They must not go to immodest banquets, nor to 

other were used, as also ' brachia ' of very different 
lengths. Most of them are comprised between 58 and 71 
centimetres, but there are smaller ones which are really 
1 coud^es ' (i£ feet), or larger ones which are really 'pas ' 
(2% feet). Not only do the ' brachia ' vary with the locality, 
but in each locality different ' brachia ' are used, accord- 
ing to what is be measured. Consequently when a 
'brachium' is mentioned without any explanation, it is 
impossible to determine precisely its exact value; but one 
cannot be far from the truth in considering- it as about 
60 centimetres." 

* According to Pinzio's book (Josephi Antonii Phtfii 
de minimis Ravennatibus. Venetiis, 1750), which Father 
fidouard d'Alencon kindly investigated in Rome, twelve 
Ravenna coins equalled a "sou," and the " livre " was 
was worth sixteen sous or half a gold florin. That is in 
the fourteenth century. 



106 The Writings of St Francis 

plays nor dances; they must not befriend actors, 
and they must not allow their families to be- 
friend them. 

II. On Abstinence. 

LET all abstain from eating- meat, except on 
Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless 
through infirmity, weakness or having been 
bled three days before, or through travelling; 
or, again, if there should be a chief festival, 
such as the Nativity of the Lord and the two 
days following the new year, the Epiphany, 
Easter and the two next days, St Peter and St 
Paul, the Nativity of the blessed John Baptist, 
the Assumption of the glorious Virgin Mary, 
the feast of All Saints and that of St Martin. 
On days when they do not fast, they may eat 
cheese and eggs. But with the religious in their 
convents, they may eat what is put before them. 
And let all, except the weak and infirm and 
travellers, content themselves with dinner and 
supper. Let those who are in good health be 
moderate in eating and drinking. Before the 
midday and evening meals let them say once 
"Our Father," also once after the meal, and 
let them thank the Lord. Otherwise let them 
say " Our Father" three times. 

III. Fasting. 

LET them fast on Friday from Easter till the 
feast of All Saints. From the feast of All 
Saints to Easter they must fast on Wednesdays 
and Fridays, without omitting the other fasts 
prescribed for the whole Church. Let them fast 
all through St Martin's Lent from the day follow- 
ing the feast to Christmas, and during the great 
Lent, from Quinquagesima till Easter, unless 
prevented by infirmity or any other cause. Sisters 



Rule of the Third Order 107 

with child may abstain from bodily mortifica- 
tions till their churching, except with regard to 
clothing and prayers. Those who work labori- 
ously are permitted to take three meals a day 
from Easter to the Dedication of St Michael. 
And when they work at the houses of others, 
they may eat what is set before them, except on 
Fridays and the fast days prescribed for all by 
the Church. 

IV. Prayers. 

LET all recite every day the seven canonical 
Hours, that is to say Matins, Prime, Terce, 
Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Let the 
clerks who know the Psalter say like the other 
clerks, the Psalm Dens, in nomine tao and Beati 
immaeiclatias far as Legem pone at Prime, and the 
other Psalms at the other Hours with the Gloria 
Patri. But when they do not go to church, let 
them say the Psalms used in the church for 
Matins, or even eighteen other Psalms, or at 
least the Pater-nosters as those who do not 
know how to read do at all the Hours, saying 
for Matins twelve Pater-nosters, and for each 
of the other Hours seven with the Gloria Patri 
at the end of each. And let those who know it 
add the Credo in Denm, and the Miserere mei 
Dens at Prime and at Compline. If they cannot 
say their Office at the proper time, let them say 
at least their Pater-nosters. Sick people need 
not recite their Hours unless they wish. 

V. When they must go to Matins. 
ET all go to Matins during the Lent of St 



L 



'Martin and during the Great Lent, unless 
prevented by circumstances or by any personal 
hindrance. 



108 The Writings of St Francis 

VI. On Confession, Communion, the Payment 
of Debts, and the Prohibition to bear Arms or to 
take Oaths. 

LET them confess three times a year, and 
communicate at the Nativity of the Lord, at 
Easter and at Pentecost. Let them always pay 
the tithes they owe and those which they shall 
owe. Let them not take nor carry murderous 
arms against anyone.* Let them abstain from 
every solemn oath, except in the case of neces- 
sity according to the exceptions established by 
the Sovereign Pontiff in his acl: of concession, \ 
namely, for peace, faith, calumny and witness. 
And in their conversation they must avoid oaths 
as much as possible. And those who thought- 
lessly, through a slip of the tongue, have uttered 
an oath, as it often happens when too loquacious, 
must the same evening at the examination ot 
conscience, say three Pater-nosters for this oath. 
And let each one encourage his family in the 
service of God. 

VII. On the Mass and on Assembling each 
Month. 

LET all the brothers and sisters of a town or 
place meet together every month at an ap- 
pointed time, in a church designated by the 
ministers, to assist at Divine exercises, and there 
let them hear the Divine Word. And let each 
one give to the collector an ordinary coin which 
will be kept by the said treasurer and distributed 
at the Council of Ministers to poor brothers and 
sisters, and specially to the sick and for the dead 
who could not otherwise have a funeral. Let a 
part of this money be also given to the poor and 

*Cf. Bull. Francis, t. i, p. 8. 

+ Bull Detestanda humani generis of March 30, 1230 
{Bull. Francis, t. 1, p. 39). 



Rule of the Third Order 109 

to this Church. If it is possible, they may have a 
friar instructed in the Word of God to speak to 
them and encourage them in penitence, per- 
severance and the carrying- out of works of 
mercy. And they must keep silence during the 
Mass and preaching, they must be attentive at 
the Office, at the prayers and during the sermon, 
except those who are employed in these offices. 

VIII. On Works of Mercy, on the Testament, 
and on the Healing of Discords. 

IF a brother or sister falls ill and shall send 
word to let the ministers know, they shall 
visit the sick person once a week or send some 
one in their stead to exhort him to penitence, 
and as it shall be advisable, to give to him 
things necessary for the body from the common 
treasury. 

IX. On Deceased Brothers. 

AND if the sick person should die, let it be 
made known to the brothers and sisters of 
the town or place, so that they may assist at the 
burying and not go away until the Mass is 
finished and the body interred. Then each friar 
during the week following the death shall say, 
the priest one Mass, he who knows the Psalter 
fifty psalms, and the others fifty Pater-nosters 
with the Requiem ceternam at the end of each 
for the soul of the deceased. Moreover, during 
the year, each priest shall say three Masses, he 
who knows the Psalter, the Psalter, and the 
others a hundred Pater-nosters with the Requiem 
ceternam at the end of each for the salvation of 
the brothers and sisters alive and dead. If they 
omit to do so, they must say double. 



1 10 The Writings of St Francis 

X. On Making Wills. 

LET those that are entitled to make a will do 
so and dispose of their goods during the 
three months after their profession for fear of 
dying intestate. To settle the disputes between 
the brothers and sisters and strangers, let them 
do what seems good to the ministers, consulting 
the diocesan bishop if it is useful. If the chiefs 
and rectors of the places where the brothers and 
sisters live cause some vexation about the rights 
and privileges of the same, let the ministers of 
the place do what shall seem best, with the ad- 
vice of the Lord Bishop. Let each receive and 
faithfully fulfil the ministry and other offices 
here spoken of, and each may be exempted from 
Office for a year. When anyone asks to enter 
the fraternity, let the ministers enquire into his 
position and employment and explain to him the 
duties of the Order, particularly the restitution 
of goods. And if the candidate find the kind of 
life to his taste, let him be given the habit, and 
let him settle his debts by paying ready money 
or giving a security. Let him be reconciled with 
his neighbour and pay his tithes. After that, at 
the end of a year, on the advice of some prudent 
brothers, if it seems good to them, let him be 
received in the following manner : Let him pro- 
mise to observe all that is here written down, 
all that may be added or taken away according 
to the decision of the friars, his whole life, unless 
at any time the ministers should decide other- 
wise. And if anyone makeanythingdifferently, let 
him be warned by the ministers and do the pen- 
ance imposed by the visitor. And let a public 
officer draw up this promise in writing at the 
same time. And let no one be received in any 
other way, unless the ministers should judge 






Rule of the Third Order 1 1 1 

otherwise because of the rank of the person or 
on his own entreaty. Let no one depart from 
this fraternity nor from the rules here laid down, 
except to enter a religious order. 

XI. On Hatred and Suspecting Heresy. 

LET no heretic nor anyone suspected of 
heresy be admitted. 
If it is merely question of suspicion, and the 
candidate is worthy in every other way, let him 
but be justified before a bishop and he may be 
admitted. Married women may only be received 
with the consent and permission of their hus- 
bands. Let incorrigible brothers and sisters who 
have been expelled from the fraternity never be 
readmitted, except with the consent of the most 
trustworthy of the friars. 

XII. On the Accusation of Faults. 

LET the ministers of each town and place in- 
form the visitor of the brothers' and sisters' 
faults, so that they may be punished. And if there 
should be any incorrigible ones, let the ministers, 
according to the advice of somediscreetbrothers, 
denounce them to the visitor as deserving expul- 
sion from the fraternity, and let it be announced 
before the whole congregation. Moreover, if it 
should be a friar, let the local authorities or the 
rector be informed. If anyone knows of a scan- 
dal caused by a brother or a sister, let it be an- 
nounced to the ministers and let the visitor be 
warned, unless it concerns a husband towards 
his wife or vice versa.* The visitor shall have the 
power to grant general dispensation to all the 
brothers, when they shall judge it. Let the mini- 
sters, with the advice of the friars, at the end of 

* The text is as follows : Et quod inter virum etuxorem 
non teneantur. 



1 1 2 The Writings of St Francis 

a year, choose two other ministers and a faithful 
treasurer to provide for the needs of the brothers, 
sisters and other poor people; let them also 
choose deputies to keep them informed, by order, 
of the sayings and doings of the fraternity. 

In all these precepts let no one be bound under 
pain of sin, and let it be a simple penal law, in 
such a way that if a brother, after two warnings 
from the ministers, neglects to accomplish the 
penalty which the visitor has imposed or shall 
impose, he must be looked upon as contumaci- 
ous and bound under pain of sin. 

XIII. On Disclosing Faults. 

WE order that no brother shall ever establish 
himself as surety for anyone,* except, per- 
haps, in favour of a member of this fraternity, 
with the permission of the visitor or the mini- 
sters. In the same way the visitor may, with the 
consent of the ministers and other friars, give 
permission to brothers to stay away from church 
for some time, provided they say Matins and 
their other Hours. Also let each brother confess 
to a priest once a month, for holy confession 
washes away all sins and gives divine grace 
more abundantly. Also, the visitor and ministers 
of this fraternity may demand from the minister 
or custodian of the Friars Minor a conventional 
Friar Minor whose advice, in accordance with the 
wish of the brothers, may serve as rule and di- 
rection in a general way to this fraternity. And 
if this friar quits the convent, let them ask for 
another in his place, so that the Friars Minor 
may always direct this fraternity founded by 
the most blessed Francis. 

* Cf. G. May, Elem. de droit romain, Paris, 1900, t. 11, 
■»■ 559-573- 



Rule of the Third Order 1 1 3 

Also let all the brothers assemble on the first 
Sunday of every month for Mass with the Friars 
Minor, and let them only keep away through a 
just cause with the permission of the visitor or 
ministers. And, moreover, they must reassemble 
on the same day there after None. Also, if the 
visitor or the ministers cannot assist on this day 
of the reunion of the congregation through a law- 
ful hindrance, let the brothers choose a vicar to 
exercise his office, so that the holy fraternity may 
not be suppressed on account of this hindrance. 

Also, any brother of this fraternity who is 
the author of a scandal, or of any public ex- 
cess whatsoever, must accuse himself publicly 
of it before all the brothers, on the day of the 
assembly of the brothers. And if he does not 
accuse himself of it, let another brother who 
knows of the fault accuse him of it in public, and 
let the visitor, the ministers, or their vicars im- 
pose a penance with pity on the delinquent, un- 
less it concerns a fault for which the guilty one 
should be expelled from the Order. 

Also, let no new rule be instituted without 
the advice and consent of the majority of this 
fraternity. 

Also, if anyone wishes to join our Order, and 
if it happens that he is bound to restore to some 
one goods wrongfully acquired, let him restore 
them to him or to his heirs if he knows them; 
but, if he has doubts as to the lawfulness of goods 
gained, if he knows not to whom and how 
much to restore, let him announce publicly ac- 
cording to custom, or at the sermon on a holy 
day, that he is ready to acquit all his debts to- 
wards every one whatever they may be. 

Also let no brother lodge a complaint with 
civil judges or with any other authority against 

8 



1 14 The Writings of St Francis 

a brother or sister of our Order, without per- 
haps having the visitor's permission, the advice 
and consent of his ministers and of the greater 
and more sober part of the congregation of 
the place. And we wish and command that if a 
dispute, discussion or lawsuit arises between 
the brothers, for any reason whatsoever, after 
having consulted the visitor and ministers if it is 
useful, the matter shall be settled according to 
the decision of some discreet brothers. And 
whatever the visitor and ministers may have 
resolved upon on this occasion, as already men- 
tioned, let the brother in dispute be absolutely 
bound to observe, so that between the religious 
and laymen no scandal shall arise by the grace 
of God with regard to our brothers. 



n5 



Letters to Brother Elias 

I 

TO the Reverend Father in Christ, to 
Brother Elias, Vicar of the whole Order, 
Brother Francis sends greeting- in Christ. 

Brother, may the Lord give you His holy 
blessing. Be always patient and full of kindness. 
If your brothers do you any wrong, offer it to 
God for acceptance. I only know of one way if 
you are the servant of God, which is to bring- 
back the wandering brother with kindness to 
God, and never to cease loving the brother who 
sins gravely. And if, held back by some natural 
fear, he should not dare to approach you, ask 
him if he wishes to receive pardon. And if a 
brother urged by the Devil falls into grievous 
sin, let him seek the guardian, and let him 
send him to the Provincial, who will receive 
him with mercy. And if the latter finds him 
penitent, let him say: "Go, and sin no more." 
Greeting in the Lord. 

II 

TO the Reverend Father in Christ, to 
Brother Llias, Vicar of the whole Order, 
Brother Francis sends greeting in Christ. 

In all your actions, Brother Elias, I above all 
recommend charity and patience. You should 
indeed show yourself most tolerant, and the 
burden your shoulders bear is great and heavy, 
for it is the eternal salvation of a multitude. In 
the ancient Law, the High Priest bare the names 
of the twelve tribes of Israel on the breastplate of 

8a 



1 1 6 The Writings of St Francis 

judgement which hung from his shoulders on 
to his breast; which signifies that as the prelate 
bears his subjects on his shoulders, he must 
also bear them in his heart: he could not indeed 
be tolerant towards those he has ceased to love. 
Our Lord Jesus Christ, when He was about 
to entrust His Church to Peter, examined the 
Apostle's charity before giving up His sheep to 
him. Watch, therefore, lest any brother sin; but 
if one of them commits a fault, let him not leave 
you without pardon or amendment; and since 
you are a physician, offer a remedy to the sick, 
for, as the Lord says, those that are well do not 
need a healer, but those that are sick. Watch, 
warn, work, feed, love, wait, fear. Greeting in 
the Lord. 

Letter to Jacqueline of Settesoli 

TO the Lady Jacqueline, servant of the Most 
High, Brother Francis, Christ's little poor 
one, sends greeting in the Lord and union in 
the Holy Spirit. 

Know, most dear one, that the blessed Christ 
in His goodness has revealed to me that the end 
of my life is near. That is why, if you wish to see 
me again alive, as soon as you have received 
this letter, hasten to come to St Mary of the 
Angels. For if you do not come before that day,* 
you will never find me again alive. And bring 
with you a hair-cloth sheet to enshroud my 
body and wax for the burial. I beg you also 
to bring me some of the food you used to give 
me when I was ill in Rome. . . . t 

* Before Saturday according to Wadding, p. 68. 
t This letter is unfinished. 



ii7 



Letter to St Anthony 

TO my well-beloved Brother Antony, Brother 
Francis sends you greeting- in the Lord. 
It pleases me if you will explain to the brothers 
the teaching of holy theology, in such a way, 
however, that you do not extinguish in your- 
self or others the spirit of holy prayer, accord- 
ing to the Rule which we profess.* Adieu. 

* St Francis was asked if it pleased him that learned 
brothers already received into the Order should be dili- 
gent in the study of the holy Scriptures. He replied : "It 
is pleasing to me, provided always, according- to the ex- 
ample of Christ, who, we are told, preferred prayer to 
reading, that they do not neglect the spirit of prayer, 
and that they do not study to be learned orators, but to 
put into practice what they learn and to suggest it to 
others, after having done it themselves. I wish my friars 
to be true disciples of the Gospel, to advance so much in 
the knowledge of truth that they may grow in purity and 
simplicity; not to separate the simplicity of the dove from 
the wisdom of the serpent, virtues which were united in 
the mouth of the Good Master" (St Bon. Leg. Maj. XI, I, 
Quaracchi edit., p. 113). 



n8 



The Canticle of the Sun* 

MOST high, most great and good Lord, 
to Thee belong praises, glory and every 
blessing; to Thee alone do they belong, most 
High, and no one is worthy to name Thee. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for the gift of all 
Thy creatures and especially for our brother, 
Master Sun, by whom the day is enlightened. 
He is radiant and bright, of great splendour, 
bearing witness to Thee, O my God. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for our sister the 
moon and the stars; Thou hast formed them in 
the heavens, fair and clear. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for my brother 
the Wind, for the Air, for Cloud and Calm, for 
every kind of weather, for by them Thou dost 
sustain all creatures. 

Blessed be my Lord for our sister Water, 
which is very useful, humble, chaste and pre- 
cious. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for brother Fire, 
gay, noble and beautiful, untamable and strong, 
by whom Thou dost illumine the night. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for our mother 
the Earth, who sustains and nourishes us, who 
brings forth all kinds of fruit, herbs and bright- 
hued flowers. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for those who 
pardon for love of Thee, and who patiently bear 
infirmity and tribulation. Happy are those who 

*See M. Arnold, Essays in Criticism, Macmillan, 1875, 
pp. 243-243, where this canticle has already been trans- 
lated. 



The Canticle of the Sun 119 

abide in peace, for by Thee, Most High, they 
will be crowned. 

Blessed be Thou, my Lord, for our sister, 
Death of Body, from whom no living man can 
escape. Woe to him who dies in a state of mor- 
tal sin. Happy are they who at the hour of death 
are found in obedience to Thy holy will, for the 
second death cannot hurt them. 

Praise ye and bless ye my Lord; give Him 
thanks and serve Him with great humility.* 

* "My sisters the birds," said also St Francis, "you 
ought always to love the Lord your Creator, and praise 
Him much. He has given you feathers to clothe you and 
all else that is needful, and wings wherewith to fly. God 
has made you noble among creatures; in the midst of the 
pure air He has given you a dwelling; you sow not, nei- 
ther do you reap ; yet, delivering you from all care, He 
protects and directs you." — i Cel., p. 61, Ed. d'Alencon 
edition. 



120 



The Canticle of the Furnace* 

LOVE has set me in a furnace, He has set me 
in a furnace of love. 

My new spouse, the Loving Lamb, has given 
me the nuptial ring; then having imprisoned me, 
He has smitten me with a lance, He has pierced 
my heart. 

He has pierced my heart, and my body has 
fallen to the ground. The arrows sent from the 
bow of love have struck me in firing me. He has 
turned peace into war, I am dying of sweetness. 

I am dying of sweetness, do not marvel at it. 
These strokes have been dealt by a loving lance. 
The sword is long and wide — a hundred brachia; 
behold! it has pierced me through and through. 

Then the darts showered on me so thickly that 
I was at the point of death. Then I took a shield, 
but the blows increased so much that I could no 
longer protect myself, they wounded my whole 
body, so strong was the arm that hurled them. 

He hurled them with such strength that I des- 
paired of parrying them, and to escape death I 
cried with all my might : ' ' Thou art breaking the 
laws of chivalry." But He prepared Him an en- 
gine of war which overwhelmed me with fresh 
blows. 

* For the better understanding of this and the following 
canticle, it must be remembered that the saints live a 
life of pure love, of the perfect love of God alone. The mo- 
tive which explains their burning accents is the pure love 
of God, as in the Canticle of Canticles. In a beautiful 
book, La Vie spirituelle, much read in Germany, Father 
Denifle has acquainted us with the mystics of the Middle 
Ages ; the language of these saintly personages has often 
much affinity with that of our two canticles. 



The Canticle of the Furnace 1 2 1 

The darts which He threw were stones covered 
with lead weighing many thousand pounds; they 
came upon me thick as hail, and I could not 
count them. None of them missed me. 

He never missed me once, so well He knew 
how to aim. I was lying on the ground, my 
limbs were unable to help me. My body was 
bruised and broken; I had no more feeling than 
a dead man. 

Dead, not by actual death, but with excess of 
joy; afterwards recovering the use of my body, 
I became so strong that I could follow the guides 
who conducted me to gates of Heaven. 

After recovering myself, I at once took wea- 
pons; I made war on Christ, I invaded His terri- 
tory, and having met with Him I came to blows 
immediately and avenged myself on Him. 

When I was avenged, I made a compact with 
Him, for, from the beginning, Christ loved me 
with true love. Now my heart is able to receive 
the consolations of Christ. 

Love has set me in a furnace; He has set me 
in a furnace of love. 



122 



The Canticle of Love* 

LOVE of loves, why hast Thou so wounded 
me? My heart, torn from its dwelling - , is 
consumed with love. 

It is on fire, it burns, it finds no resting-place, 
it cannot flee because it is enchained. It is con- 
sumed like wax in the fire, dying it lives, its 
languor is sweet, it prays for power to escape 
awhile and finds itself in the midst of a furnace. 
Alas! where will this terrible faintness lead me? 
The burning heat of this fire so stifles me that 
it is death to live thus. 

Before making trial of it, I prayed Christ for 
His love, thinking to find sweetness in it, and 
to delight in gentle peace to such a degree that 
no care could touch me; but I experience a 
torment I could never have imagined, heat 
breaks my heart, I cannot describe how I suffer, 
I am dying of sweetness, and I live deprived of 
my heart. 

My heart wounded by Divine Love is no 
longer my own; I have no judgement, no will, 
no power of enjoyment or of feeling; all beauty 
seems to me like foul mud; delights and riches, 
perdition. A tree of love, loaded with fruit, is 
planted in my heart and gives me nourishment; 
it works such a change in me that it casts forth 
all that there was in it of self-will, intelligence 
and vigour. 

To buy love I have entirely renounced both 
the world and myself; if I were in possession of 
*See Rosetti, Dante and his Circle, who attributes this 
poem to St Francis. 






The Canticle of Love 1 23 

all that has been created, I would give it without 
hesitation for love; but I find that love has de- 
ceived me: I have given everything, and I know 
not where I am drawn; love has destroyed me, 
I have been looked upon as mad, and since I am 
sold, I am no longer worth anything. 

The world thought to bring me back, and also 
the friends who are outside this realm of love; 
but he who has once given himself can no more 
give himself afresh; theservant cannot bemaster; 
the stone will grow soft sooner than love will 
cease to bind me: all my will is burnt up with love, 
united to it, transformed into it, consumed by it. 

Neither the fire nor the sword shall separate 
me from it; division cannot enter into such a 
union, suffering and death cannot rise to the 
height to which it lures me: outside this union 
all created things are restless, by it the soul is 
raised above everything. O my soul, by what 
happy chance dost thou possess such blessings? 
They come to Thee from Christ, therefore em- 
brace Him with sweetness. 

I can no longer behold any creature, my whole 
soul cries towards the Creator: neither heaven 
nor earth holds anything dear to me: all is wiped 
out before the love of Christ: the light of the 
sun seems dark when I behold this dazzling 
Face; the Cherubim who excel in knowledge, the 
Seraphim in loving, lose their beauty for him 
who sees the Lord. 

Let no one reproach me if such a love makes 
me mad. There is no heart which can defend 
itself or flee from the chains of love. Imagine if 
in such a furnace the heart will not suffer and 
break. Oh, if I could only find a soul to under- 
stand me, to take pity on me and know all the 
anguish of my heart! 



1 24 The Writings of St Francis 

Heaven and earth, all creatures cry out to me 
that I must love; everything says to me: "With 
all thy heart love the Love which loves thee, 
love the Love which desires thee, and has created 
thee to draw thee wholly to Himself." Therefore 
I wish to draw unceasingly upon this holy light, 
this ineffable goodness which is spread around. 

I would love more if I were able, but my 
heart can do no more. I cannot give more than 
myself; it is obvious, even if I would. I have 
given everything to possess this Lover, who has 
made a new man of me since I found Thee. 
O goodness old and ever new, immense Light 
whose splendour is so sweet! 

At the sight of so much beauty I am drawn 
outside myself without knowing where I am 
borne; my heart softens like melted wax, and 
the form of Christ is traced upon it. Never was 
seen in me such a change; I have stripped my- 
self to be clothed in Christ. My heart is trans- 
formed, its cry is love; my soul is undone, for it 
is plunged in delights. My soul, sweetly en- 
chained, rushes to the embrace of the Well- 
Beloved, and the more it beholds His Beauty, 
the more it is beside itself; rich in Christ it 
loses everything in Him, it has no more remem- 
brance of itself, it is no longer anxious to obtain 
anything whatever, it is incapable of losing 
anything, it feels no longer. 

Transformed in Christ it has almost become 
Christ; united to God it is entirely divine; His 
magnificent riches surpass all grandeur; every- 
thing which is Christ's is hers, she is Queen. 
Can I therefore remain sad and beg a remedy 
for my faults? There is no longer an abyss in 
me where sin is found; the old man is dead and 
despoiled of all his stains 



The Canticle of Love 125 

In Christ a new creature is born; the old 
man is taken away, I have become a new man; 
but love is so fervent that my heart is cleft as 
with a sword; this fire consumes my soul and 
my thoughts; Christ in His beauty allures me 
completely; I am inflamed when I see Him, I 
utter a cry of love: "O Love the height of my 
desire, let me die of Love!" 

For Thee, O Love, I waste and languish, I 
go about uttering cries and seeking Thy kisses; 
when Thou goest, my life is changed to death, 
I sigh, I pine to find Thee; and when Thou re- 
turnest, my heart expands, because in Thee it 
can be transformed entirely; then tarry no more, 

Love; be mindful of me, Thou holdest me in 
bonds, consume my heart. 

Sweet Love, consider my trouble. I can no 
longer bear such ardour. Love has taken pos- 
session of me, I no longer know where I am, 

1 feel no longer what I say and what I do; 
like a man lost I go along the road; I fall ex- 
hausted from languor; I do not know how to 
bear such torment; the grief it causes me has 
ravished my heart. 

My heart is enraptured, and I can no longer 
see what I have to do or whatnot to do, and those 
who see me ask if a love without deeds can 
please Thee, O Christ; but if it does not please 
Thee, what then can I do? My heart is worn out 
with much abundance; love, which enfolds me, 
takes away all action, all initiative; I lose all 
feeling. 

I knew how to speak before, now I am mute; 
I could see, now I am blind; never was there 
greater capture. I am silent, and I speak; I fly, 
and I am bound; I fall, and I rise; I hold, and I 
am held; I am at the same time within and 



126 The Writings of St Francis 

without; I pursue, and I am pursued. Insensate 
Love, why dost thou madden me, why dost 
thou kill me in so burning a furnace? 

Christ. 

CONTROL thy love, O thou who lovest Me; 
there is no virtue without order. Since thou 
so much desirest to find Me, renew thy soul by 
virtue. I truly wish that thou shouldst call upon 
Me while loving- Me, but thy love must be dis- 
ciplined; the tree is known by the goodness of 
its fruit, law presides over everything and gives 
everything its value. 

All things which I have created have been 
made with harmony and proportion, they are 
all ordained towards their end. It is the order 
which guards their price, and charity, more 
than any other virtue, naturally wants to be 
regulated. Art thou, O soul, by thine ardour, be- 
come a fool? It is because thou art uncontrolled 
that thy fervour hath no curb. 

The Soul. 

O CHRIST, Thou hast ravished my heart, 
and Thou sayest to my soul, " Control thy 
love"! How, since I am transformed into Thee, 
can I be master of myself? As the iron grows 
red in the fire, as in the translucent air the sun's 
rays lose their form and assume another shape, 
so is the pure soul entirely transformed with 
Thy love. 

And since it has lost its own virtue, it is power- 
less to act by itself; so it is formed, such is its 
virtue, such are the works and the fruits it can pro- 
duce. If then it is transformed into Thy truth and 
Thyself alone, O Christ, whom it is so sweet 
to love, it is to Thee and not to myself that my 



The Canticle of Love 127 

deeds must be imputed; and if I cease to please 
Thee, O Love, it is that Thou no longer art 
pleasing to Thyself. 

If it is true that I am mad, O supreme Wis- 
dom, the fault is Thine; it dates from the day 
when Thou woundedst me and I made a compact 
with Love. I am despoiled of myself and clothed 
with Thee. I know not how I was drawn to a 
new life. I was in utter dejection, but Love has 
made me strong; the gates are broken down, 
and I live with Thee, O Love. 

Why hast Thou led me into such a furnace, if it 
is Thy will that I should keep within bounds? 
In giving Thyself to me without measure, Thou 
hast taken all measure from me: since being 
small Thou dost suffice me, now that Thou art 
great I cannot possess Thee more; and if there 
is folly in it, O Love, that comes from Thee, not 
from me; and Thou, O Love, hast traced for me 
this path. 

Thou hast not forbidden Thyself to love; love 
made Thee come from Heaven to earth, O Love, 
and with so great humility that Thou hast 
walked the earth like a despised man; Thou 
didst neither desire dwelling nor goods, and 
this poverty was to make us rich; in life and in 
death Thou didst give unmistakable signs of 
the boundless love that consumed Thy Heart. 

Thou wentest through the world like a man 
beside himself; Love led Thee like a slave; in all 
things, O Love, Thou didst shew that Thou 
thoughtest not of Thyself; standing at the door 
of the Temple, Thou criedst: "Let him who has 
suffered the thirst of love, come and drink; he 
shall be given a boundless love which will satisfy 
and console him." 

Wisdom has not prevented Thee from cease- 



128 The Writings of St Francis 

lessly spreading - abroad Thy love. Thou wast 
born of love and not of the flesh to save us, O 
Incarnate Love. To inflame us with love Thou 
didst betake Thyself to the Cross, and I know 
that if Thou didst not speak, if Thy love did not 
excuse itself before Pilate, it was to accomplish 
our redemption on the Cross of Love. 

I see that wisdom hid itself and love alone 
was visible; power no longer showed itself, and 
strength had ceased to please; the love was 
great which thus poured itself out: in His glance, 
in His Heart were no other sentiments than those 
of love; Love was bound upon the Cross, man- 
kind was embraced by an immense love. 

If then, O Jesus, I am so full of love, if I am 
inebriated with so much sweetness, who can re- 
proach me, who can blame me, if I go about like 
a madman whither I will not, and if I lose all 
feeling and all strength? Since love has thus 
constrained Thee and despoiled Thee of all ma- 
jesty, who then will be bold enough to prevent me 
from becoming mad to embrace Thee, O my Love? 

This love which has made me mad seems in- 
deed to have taken wisdom from Thee; and this 
love in which I languish, has deprived Thee of 
all power because of me; it is not that I will not, 
I cannot suffer more. I am the captive of love, I 
will resist no longer, the decree has gone forth, 
I shall die of love, I do not want any other con- 
solation than to die of love. 

Love, Love who hast so wounded me, I can 
but utter one cry: "Love!" I am united to Thee 
by love, love embraces Thee in me. Love, Love 
who hast so wounded me, my heart ever grows 
weak with love. I am absorbed in Thee, O Love, 
let me abide with Thee, and of Thy goodness let 
me die of love. 






The Canticle of Love 129 

Love, Love, O Jesus, I am reaching- the 
haven; Love, Love, O Jesus, receive me; Love, 
Love, O Jesus, come to my help; it is love, love 
for Jesus which enflames me thus; Love, Love, O 
Jesus, I am dying of love, let me be near Thee. 

Love, embrace me always; transform me into 
Thyself, O Love, into truth, into supreme charity. 

Love, Love, it is the cry of the whole world; 
Love, Love, it is the outcry of everything; Love, 
Love, such is Thy depth, that the more one is 
bound to Thee, the more one dr sires Thee; Love, 
Love, Thou art the circle which surrounds my 
heart; he who possesses Thee loves Thee for 
ever; Thou art my food and my clothing; he who 
loves Thee is so happy to possess Thee, to feel 
Thy presence, that he cries unceasingly: Love! 

Love, Love, Thou makest me suffer so much 
that I cannotbearit any longer; Love, Love, Thou 
givest me so much that I fear to die of it ; Love, 
Love, Thou hast such dominion over me; trans- 
form me into Thyself; Love, sweet languor, Love, 
my desire, Love my delight, bind me with love. 

Love, Love, my heart is broken, it is greatly 
wounded ; Love, draw me towards Thy beauty, 
for by Thee I am ravished; Love, Love, disdain 
me not, Thou art my life; Oh, forsake me not, 
since Thou hast made me faint with love. 

In this anguish of Love, Love, Love, O my 
adorable Jesus, I would die while embracing- 
Thee, O Jesus, my sweet spouse; Love, Love, 
from Thee I beg for death, O pitying Jesus, re- 
ceive me, transform me into Thyself, think that 

1 am passing away killing myself with love; I 
know not where I am; Jesus, my hope, destroy 
me with love. 



130 



Prayer in Time of Sickness 

I GIVE Thee thanks, Lord God, for all these 
pains with which I am afflicted, and I pray 
Thee, O my Lord, multiply them a hundredfold 
if it is pleasing to Thee, for my greatest pleasure 
is that Thou spare me not affliction nor torment; 
my supreme consolaton is in the fulfilment of 
Thy holy will. 



Testament written in April 1226* 

WRITE that I bless all my brothers in 
Religion and all who shall be to the end 
of time. And since I am unable to speak because 
of my weakness, my pain and my sickness, I 
will briefly give in three words my wishes and 
desires to all the brothers present and to come: 
namely, that in memory and remembrance of 
my benediction and last will, they shall always 
love each other mutually as I have loved them 
and as I still cherish them; let them always love 
and follow our Lady Poverty, and let them 
always faithfully obey the prelates and clerks of 
our Holy Mother, the Church. 

*See The Mirror of Perfeftion, translation by the 
Countess de la Warr, London, 1902. 






131 



APPENDIX 

Rule of the Poor Ladies 

i 

IN the name of the Lord. So be it. Here begins the 
the Rule and manner of life of the Order of Poor Sisters, 
namely, to follow the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and live in obedience, chastity and without pro- 
perty. Clare, the unworthy handmaid of Christ, promises 
obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Innocent [IV] 
and to his successors canonically appointed and to the 
Roman Church. And as at the beginning- of her conver- 
sion, she, with her sisters, promised obedience to Brother 
Francis, so she promises the same inviolable submission 
to his successors. And let all other sisters obey the suc- 
cessors of Brother Francis and Sister Clare and the other 
Abbesses canonically elected who shall succeed her. 

II. How the Novices should be received. 

IF anyone, by Divine inspiration, comes to the sisters 
wishing to adopt this life, let the Abbess be bound to 
take the advice of all the sisters on the subject. And if the 
majority are favourable, she may be received with the 
permission of the Cardinal Protector. And if he sees the 
new member, let him examine her carefully or have her 
examined on the Catholic Faith and the Sacraments of 
the Church. And if she believes all these things and de- 
sires to confess them faithfully and observe them stead- 
fastly to the end; if she is not married, or if she and her 
husband have joined an Order with the consent of the 
diocesan bishop after having taken the vow of continence; 
if, finally, advanced age, infirmities or defects of character 
do not prevent her from observing this rule, one must 
diligently explain to her the obligations of this life. And 
if she is fit, let her receive the word of the holy Gospel, 
and go and sell all that she has and strive to distribute 
them among the poor. But if she cannot do so, a good 
intention will suffice. And let the Abbess and sisters be 
careful not to concern themselves with the temporal goods 
of the novice and let the latter act freely with her fortune 
as the Lord shall inspire her. However, if advice is required, 

9* 



132 The Writings of St Francis 

let her be sent to prudent and GoD-fearing men, and ac- 
cording- to their advice let the goods be given to the poor. 
Then let her hair be cut in a circle and secular clothes 
put aside, and let her be given three tunics and a cloak. 
After that she must not be allowed to quit the convent ex- 
cept for a useful, obvious or plausible reason. The year 
of probation being over, let her be received into obedience, 
vowing always to observe this rule of life and this form 
of poverty. Let no one receive the veil during the time of 
her probation. The sisters may also have little towels to 
assist their work and keep things clean. Let the Abbess 
supply her nuns with clothing, discreetly, according to 
the constitution of each, places, weather and cold climates, 
as it shall seem necessary. Let young girls received into 
the convent before they are of age have their hair cut in 
a circle, and after having put aside secular clothing, let 
them wear a religious habit, as the Abbess shall see fit. 
But becoming of age, let them be dressed like the others, 
and make their profession. And let the Abbess appoint 
for them and the other novices a mistress chosen from 
the most discreet in the convent to discipline them with 
care in a holy life, and pure habits, in accordance with 
the life professed by the sisters. For the examination and 
reception of sisters who serve outside the convent let the 
same rules be observed; the latter may wear shoes. Let 
no woman live in the convent unless she has been received 
according to the form of this profession. And for love of 
the most holy and most dear Child Jesus wrapped in poor 
clothes and lying in a manger, for love of his most Holy 
Mother, I pray, exhort and bind my sisters always to 
wear coarse garments. 

[II. On the Divine Office, Fasting and Communion. 

LET the Sisters who know how to read, recite ac- 
cording to the custom of the Friars Minor the Divine 
Office as soon as they can get breviaries.* 

They must recite it without chanting. And let those 
who cannot for some good reason recite their Hours say 
the Pater noster like the other sisters. Let those who 

*On this passage and the analogous text (chapter iii of 
Rule of the Minors, 1223) this is Wadding's note (Opusc, 
page 179, note 13): "Solum voluisse Franciscum obligate 
F rat res suos ad recitandum officium divinum ex eo tem- 
pore quo sibi conquirere possent Breviaria, qua manu- 
scripta tunc difficilius etcarius inveniebantur." See above, 
page 30. 



The Rule of the Poor Ladies 133 

do not know how to read say twenty-four Pater-nosters for 
Matins, five for Lauds, seven for Prime, Terce, Sext and 
None; twelve for Vespers, and seven for Compline. Let 
them say for the dead seven Pater-nosters with the Re- 
quiem ceternam at Vesper and twelve at Matins. Let the 
sisters who know how to read be obliged to say the Office 
for the Dead. When one of the sisters comes to us let the 
others say fifty Pater-nosters for her. Let the sisters fast 
continually. On the feast of the birth of the Lord, on 
whatever day it falls, they may have two meals. Dis- 
pensations may mercifully be granted to young sisters 
who are weak and to those who serve outside the con- 
vent, according to the judgement of the Abbess. But in 
time of manifest necessity the sisters shall not be com- 
pelled to fast corporally. They must confess at least 
twelve times a year, with the permission of the Abbess. 
And they must take care to speak only of what concerns 
confession and the salvation of their soul. Let them com- 
municate six timesa year, namely, at the Birth of the Lord, 
on Holy Thursday, at Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption of 
the most Blessed Virgin, and on the feast of All Saints. 
Chaplains may enter the cloister to give the Communion 
to sick sisters. 

IV. On the Eleaion of the Abbess. 

SISTERS must observe canonical rules for the election 
of an Abbess. Let them try to have for the occasion 
the Minister-General or the Provincial of the Order of 
Friars Minor, who shall exhort them by an instruction to 
to perfect concord and to seek the common good in the 
election. And let no one but a professed nun be elected. 
And if it should happen that a non-professed sister should 
be elected or chosen, let her not be obeyed until she has 
promised to observe this rule of poverty. If the Abbess 
should die, another must be elected. And if at any time it 
should be apparent to the whole of the sisters that she 
is unsuitable for the service and the common good, the 
said sisters shall be obliged, following the rules pointed 
out above, to elect another as Abbess as quickly as pos- 
sible, and to choose one as Mother. But let the elected 
one consider the responsibility she has undertaken, and 
think of the Judge to whom she must give account for 
the flock entrusted to her care. Let her strive rather to 
be first through her virtues and holy manners than 
through her office, so that the sisters impelled by her 
example may obey rather through love than fear. Let her 



134 The Writings of St Francis 

beware of private friendships, lest loving - one more than 
another she should offend the others. Let her console the 
afflicted, let her be the supreme consolation of those in 
trouble, lest despair should take possession of these sick 
souls if they can obtain no comfort from their superior. 
Let her see that a common life reigns everywhere, espe- 
cially in church, in the dormitory, refectory, infirmary, 
and also with regard to clothing. And her vicar must be 
under the same obligations. At least once a week the 
Abbess must convoke a chapter of the sisters, where the 
Abbess herself and the sisters must humbly confess all 
their faults and public negligences. And let her discuss 
with the other sisters all that concerns the welfare and 
service of the convent. Often, indeed, the Lord reveals 
to the most lowly His best designs. Let her not contract 
any large debt, unless with the common consent of 
the sisters and in case of manifest necessity, and let it 
be done by proxy. The Abbess and her sisters must be- 
ware of receiving deposits in the convent, for they are 
often the cause of trouble and scandal. In order to pre- 
serve union, brotherly love and peace, let all the officers 
of the convent be chosen with the common consent of all 
the sisters. Let at least eight of the most discreet sisters 
be chosen to assist the Abbess with advice as to the 
manner of life of the sisters. The sisters may also and 
should, if it seems beneficial and useful, occasionally 
take away their charges from the officers and the dis- 
creet and entrust them to others. 

V. On Silence and the Manner of Speaking in the Parlour 
and at the Grille. 

LET the sisters keep silence from the hour of Com- 
pline to Terce, except those who serve outside the 
Convent. Let them also constantly keep silence in church, 
in the dormitory and in the refectory during the meals, 
but not in the infirmary, for the sisters may always be 
allowed to speak discreetly in order to distract and serve 
the sick. They may also always and everywhere speak in 
a low voice when it is necessary. Sisters may not go to the 
parlour or to the grille without the permission of the 
Abbess or her vicar. And let those who are allowed to go 
to the parlour be accompanied by two sisters to see and 
hear them. They may only be permitted to go to the grille 
accompanied by at least three sisters appointed by the 
Abbess or her vicar, chosen from among those discreet 
ones who assist at the council of the Abbess. Let the 



The Rule of the Poor Ladies 135 

Abbess and her vicar observe these rules of the parlour 
as diligently as possible, and let them very seldom go to 
the grille and never to the door. There must be a curtain 
inside at the grille which shall never be taken away un- 
less to announce the word of God or when anyone speaks 
there. Let there be a wooden door firmly shut, with two 
different locks of iron, with bolts and hinges, and let this 
door be locked, especially at night, with two keys, the 
Abbess keeping one and the sacristan the other. And let 
it always remain shut, except during the reciting of the 
Divine Office and for the above-mentioned causes. Let no 
sister speak at the grille before the rising or after the 
setting of the sun. There must always be a curtain inside 
the parlour which must never be taken away. During 
St Martin's Lent and the Great Lent, no one must go to 
the parlour unless to confess to a priest, or for some other 
necessary cause, according to the judgement and discre- 
tion of the Abbess or her vicar. 

VI. Let the Sisters never receive any Goods or Property 
themselves or through an interposed Person. 

THE Abbess and all the sisters must be zealous to 
maintain the holy poverty which they have vowed to 
the Lord God, and future Abbesses and all the sisters 
must observe the same holy poverty to the end, and 
never receive or possess any goods or property for them- 
selves or for interposed persons, nor a<5t in any way 
with what may truly be considered an air of ownership, 
and possess, in facl:, only the little land necessarily re- 
quired for convenience and maintenance of the convent. 
And again, this land must not be cultivated, except to 
produce enough to supply the sisters' needs in the garden. 

VII. On the Manner of Working. 

LET the sisters to whom the Lord has given the 
grace to work labour after Terce at a work of an 
honest nature, which may be of general use, and faith- 
fully and devoutly in such a way that shunning idleness, 
the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the spirit 
of prayer and devotion to which other temporal things 
should be subservient. And let the Abbesses or their vicars, 
at the Chapter in the presence of all, assign to each her 
manual work. Let them also have Masses said by the 
priests, from the alms of the convent, for the necessities 
of the sisters, and let them all be recommended in common. 
And let all be distributed for common use by the Abbess 
or her vicar, on the advice of the discreet ones. 



136 The Writings of St Francis 

VIII. That the Sisters shall appropriate nothing to them- 
selves; and of the Sick Sisters. 

SISTERS may not possess aught, house, place nor 
any other thing, but let them go about asking for 
alms with confidence, as strangers and pilgrims in this 
world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility. And 
let them not be ashamed of it, for the Lord made Him- 
self poor for us in this world. Herein is the height of 
most sublime Poverty which has made you, my very dear 
sisters, heirs and queens of the kingdom of heaven, 
which has made you poor in possessions but has enriched 
you with virtues. Let her be your portion, she who leads 
you to the land of the living. Attach yourselves to her 
entirely, much loved sisters, and never wish to possess 
anything under heaven for the sake of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. No sister may be allowed to send letters, receive 
or give anything outside the convent without permission 
of the Abbess. And they must have nothing which the 
Abbess has not given or permitted them to have. And if 
relations or other persons send any present, the Abbess 
must give it to the sister for whom it is intended, or she 
may dispose of it herself if it is necessary, or she may 
charitably give part of it to a sister in need. If money is 
given, let the Abbess with the advice of the discreet dis- 
pose of it for those who are in need of anything. 

The Abbess is bound to watch over sick sisters with 
care, either personally or deputing others to do so, and 
must give what is necessary during the illness: advice, 
nourishment and other such things; and let her obtain it 
through charity and with pity according to the possibi- 
lity of the country. And all are bound to watch over and 
tend their sick, as they would wish themselves to be 
treated if they were ill. And let them mutually shew their 
needs freely, for if a mother loves and nourishes her 
child according to the flesh, with how much more affec- 
tion should each sister love and care for her sister accor- 
ding to the spirit! The sick may lie on straw mattresses 
and have a feather pillow for their heads. And those who 
need them may have woollen sandals and mattress. 
When strangers visit the convent, the said sick may 
briefly reply to any good words addressed to them. But 
other sisters who have permission must not speak to 
visitors to the convent except in presence of two discreet 
sisters placed so as to hear them and appointed by the 
Abbess or her vicar. The Abbess and her vicar are like- 
wise bound to observe this manner of speaking. 



The Rule of the Poor Ladies 137 

IX. On the Penance to be imposed on the Sisters. 

IF any sister, at the instigation of the enemy, sins mor- 
tally against the Rule of our profession, and is warned 
two or three times by the Abbess or by the other sisters, 
yet does not amend, let her eat bread and water before 
all the sisters in the refectory for as many days as she 
continues contumacious and perform even a graver pe- 
ance if the Abbess thinks fit. While she is rebellious, let 
the others pray the Lord to enlighten her heart to lead 
her to penitence. But the Abbess and all the sisters must 
beware lest they be angry or troubled on account of the 
sins of others, for vexation and anger prevent charity in 
oneself and in others. If it should happen, contrary to 
Gou's will, that a word or deed should give occasion of 
vexation and scandal between two sisters, let the one 
who has been the cause of this trouble go immediately 
before offering prayer to God, prostrate herself humbly 
at the feet of her companion, ask her forgiveness, and 
still more beg her humbly to intercede for her before the 
Lord, so that she may obtain pardon for her fault. As to 
the injured one let her remember the word of the Lord: 
"If you do not forgive from your heart, your Heavenly 
Father will not forgive you " (cf. St Matt, vi, 15), and let 
her freely pardon her sister for the injury she has received. 
The Sisters who serve outside the Convent must not 
make a long stay there, unless obvious necessity obliges 
them. And let them behave modestly and speak little, so 
as to edify beholders. And let them beware of having 
suspicious intimacy or conferences with anyone, and let 
them not be godmothers of men or women, lest through 
this vexation and murmuring should arise. And they must 
never bring into the convent the talk of the world, and 
they are strictly bound never to make known outside the 
convent what is going on within, for fear of inadvertently 
causingsome scandal. And if a sister on account of her sim- 
plicity happens to fail in one of these two points, let the 
Abbess in wise pity inflict a penance. But if she has con- 
tracted the vicious habit of this fault, let the Abbess, 
with the advice of the discreet ones, impose on her a 
penance in proportion to the gravity of the fault. 

X. On the Visits paid to the Sisters by the Abbess. 

LET the Abbess warn and visit her sisters and cor- 
rect them with humility and charity, and not com- 
mand them to do anything against their consciences and 
the Rule of this Profession. And let the sisters who are in 



138 The Writings of St Francis 

subjection remember that for God's sake they have re- 
nounced their own will, and they are strictly bound to 
obey their Abbesses in all things they have vowed to ob- 
serve and which are not contrary to their conscience and 
profession. And let them be so intimate with their Abbess 
that they may speak and act with her as mistresses with 
their servants, for thus the Abbess should be the handmaid 
of all the sisters. In the Lord Jesus Christ, I warnand ex- 
hort all the sisters to keep themselves from pride, vainglory, 
envy, avarice, the cares and anxieties of this world, from evil- 
speaking and murmuring. And let them always maintain 
theunionof mutualcharity whichisthe bond of perfection.* 
And let not those who are ignorant trouble themselves to 
learn, but let them consider that above all things they must 
desire to possess the mind of the Lord and His holy 
operation, to pray always with a pure heart, to be humble 
and patient under trials and afflictions, and to love those 
who persecute, reprove and blame us, for the Lord has 
said, "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' 
sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; and he that 
shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved. "f 

XI. On the Door-keeper. 

LET the door-keeper be of grave and discreet man- 
ners and of a suitable age; let her remain at her post 
during the day in an open cell without a door. Let a 
capable companion be assigned to her, when it is neces- 
sary to supply her place in the office. Let the door be kept 
perfectly closed with two different iron locks with bolts 
and hinges, and let it be locked especially at night with 
two keys, the sacristan keeping one and the Abbess the 
other. It must never be left without a guard during the 
day, and must be firmly shut with a key. Let them take 
great care never to open the door more than is neces- 
sary. And it must never be opened to one who asks to 
enter without the consent of the Sovereign Pontiff or Lord 
Cardinal. And let no one enter the convent before sunrise, 
and the sisters must not allow anyone to remain within 
after sunset, unless in a reasonable case of manifest and 
unavoidable necessity. If a Bishop has permission to cele- 
brate Mass inside for the consecration of an Abbess, the 
reception of a nun, or for any other reason, let him be satis- 
fied with the smallest possible number of companions and 
ministers chosen from among the most virtuous. When it 
is necessary to allow work-people to come into the con- 
*Cf. Col. iii, 14. fMatt. v, 10; x, 22. 



Prayer to Obtain Poverty 139 

vent to do some work, the Abbess must carefully choose 
a suitable person to remain at the door and keep out all 
other persons except those needful for the work. All the 
sisters must be careful not to be seen by those who enter. 

XII. On the Visitor. 

THE Visitor of the sisters must always be of the 
Order of Friars-Minor, according to the wish and 
direction of the Lord Cardinal, and let him be such that 
his virtues and habits shall tend to edification. His duty 
is to correct, in the head as well as in the members, the 
faults committed against the rule of this profession. 
Posted in a public place so that he may be seen by the 
others, he shall speak with all and each concerning all 
that touches the object of the visit, as they shall judge 
most expedient. 

And in order to help them in their poverty they shall 
ask also from the Order of the Minors a chaplain with 
an assistant clerk of good conduct and approved dis- 
cretion, and two lay brothers of holy life and pious 
habits, such as they have up to this time fortunately had 
from this Order. And the chaplain must not enter the 
convent without his assistant. And when they enter they 
must keep in a public place so as to see and be seen. 
They may be allowed to enter for the confession of the 
sick who cannot come to the parlour, to give them Com- 
munion, Extreme Unction and the commendation of the 
soul. For funerals and solemn Masses for dead sisters, 
for digging, opening or finishing graves, the person 
needed may enter with the consent of the Abbess. 

Moreover, the sisters are under obligation to have the 
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, appointed by the 
Lord Pope for the Friars-Minor, as governor, protector 
and corrector, so that being always subject and obedient 
at the feet of the same Holy Church, grounded in the 
Catholic faith, we may always follow the poverty and 
humility of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His very holy 
Mother. 

Prayer to obtain Poverty 

OLORD JESUS, show me the way of Thy very dear 
poverty. I know that the Old Testament was the 
figure of the New. Thou didst make this promise to the 
Jews: "I will deliver to you every place that the sole of 
your foot shall tread upon."* To tread underfoot, that is 
*Jos. i, 3. 



140 The Writings of St Francis 

to scorn. For poverty tramples everything underfoot; 
she is therefore universal queen. But, my sweet Lord 
Jesus Christ, have pity on me and on Lady Poverty, 
for I am tormented for love of her, and I have no peace 
away from her. 

O my Lord, Thou knowest well that Thou hast made 
me in love with her, and behold, she is full of sadness, 
repulsed by all. She is like a widow, who is the queen of 
nations; she is vile and despised who is the queen of all 
virtues. She weeps seated on a dung-hill; all her friends 
despise her; they behave like adulterers, not as faithful 
spouses. Behold, Lord Jesus, Poverty is the queen of 
virtues, for her Thou didst leave the throne of the angels 
and earnest down to this earth; in Thine eternal love 
Thou hast espoused her in order to have, by her, in her 
and of her perfect sons. She was so faithfully devoted to 
Thee that she began to serve Thee from Thy Mother's 
womb by giving Thee the smallest of living bodies. 

When Thou earnest forth from the Virgin's womb, she 
received Thee in the holy manger, in a stable, and during 
Thy sojourn in the world she deprived Thee of all things in 
such a manner that Thou hadst not where to lay Thy 
head. Inseparable companion, when Thou didst begin 
the battle of our redemption, she followed Thee faithfully; 
in the height of Thy Passion, she alone stood beside Thee 
like a squire. Thy disciples forsook Thee and denied 
Thee: she did not go away, but faithfully at that time 
supplied Thee with the whole escort of her sisters. Even 
Thy Mother, who alone remained steadfastly attached to 
Thee and shared Thy Passion with so much anguish, 
Thy Mother because of the height of the cross could not 
reach Thee. But Lady Poverty, with all her privations, 
like a gentle maiden embraced Thee more chastely than 
ever, she was more intimately united with Thee in Thy 
crucifixion. She took no trouble, as was usual, to polish 
and arrange Thy Cross; she did not furnish — will it be 
believed? — nails enough to pierce Thee; they were neither 
sharp nor polished; she prepared but three, and they 
were rough, big and blunt to make Thee suffer the more. 
And while Thou wert dying of thirst, this faithful spouse 
took care Thou shouldst be denied even a little water, 
and that impious soldiers should offer Thee a draught so 
bitter that far from drinking it scarcely wouldst Thou 
taste it. Thou didst give up Thy soul in the close embrace 
of this spouse. But, faithful spouse, she did not leave 
Thee at the scene of Thy burial; sepulchre, spices, linen, 



The Chapter on Perfect Joy 141 

she only allowed you what was borrowed. Neither was 
this most holy spouse absent from Thy resurrection; she 
rejoiced in Thy kisses when Thou didst rise gloriously 
from the tomb, leaving there what had been given or 
lent. Thou didst take her with Thee to the skies, leaving 
to the world all that is of the world. And then to Lady 
Poverty Thou hast given the seal of the kingdom of 
heaven wherewith to mark those beings who desire to 
walk in the way of perfection. 

Oh, who then would not love Lady Poverty above all 
things? I implore Thee to be marked with her seal. I de- 
sire to be enriched by such a treasure. I swear to Thee, 
most poor Jesus, that for love of Thy name I have never 
any possession under Heaven for myself nor for mine, and 
that as long as I live in this miserable flesh, I will always 
use scantily the gifts offered by others. So be it. 



The Chapter on Perfect Joy 

See G. Sabatier, AElus B. Franchci, pp. 24-27, and 
Wadding, Opuscula, p. 93. 

ON a certain winter's day St Francis came from 
Perugia to St Mary of the Angels; Brother Leo was 
with him, and the cold caused them to suffer terribly. St 
Francis made a sign to Brother Leo, who was a little in 
advance of him, and said: "O Brother Leo, even if the 
Friars Minor should give good examples of a pure and 
holy life, to the edification of others, mark, however, and 
remember that perfect joy does not consist in that." And 
after they had gone a little farther, he called him again and 
said: " O Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor should give 
sight to the blind, heal the lame, drive out devils, make 
the deaf hear, the lame walk and the dumb speak, even 
if he should raise one who had been dead four days, mark 
that perfect joy is not in that." And calling him again he 
added: "O Brother Leo, if a Friar Minor knew all the 
languages in the world, all knowledge and the Holy 
Scriptures, if he were a prophet and divined the future 
and the minds of others, mark that perfect joy is not in 
that." They walked on and again the Saint called him, 
"O Brother Leo, little lamb of God, even if a Friar 
Minor were to speak the language of Angels, know the 
course of the stars, the virtues of plants, the secrets of 
the treasures of the earth, even if he were to know the 
habits and nature of birds, fishes, animals, men, roots, 



142 The Writings of St Francis 

trees, stones and waters, mark well and note diligently 
that in that is not perfect joy." And after some minutes 
he said again: "O Brother Leo, even if a Friar Minor 
should know how to preach with so great solemnity as to 
convert the unfaithful to the Faith, mark that in that is 
not perfect joy." 

And the Saint continued in the same strain for a distance 
of two miles. Brother Leo, marvelling at this talk said to 
him: "Father, I pray you in the name of GOD, tell me in 
what is found perfect joy." The Saint replied: "When we 
arrive at St Mary of the Angels,* soaked with rain and 
frozen with cold, bespattered with mud and famished, 
and if we should ring at the door of the place, and if the 
door-keeper should come angrily and say to us: 'Who are 
you?' and we should answer, 'We are two of your friars,' 
and he should reply: 'Begone! you are more likely two 
rascals who go about begging and rob the poor,' and if he 
does not open to us but leaves us out in the mud, rain, 
cold and hunger till night, and we bear all these injuries 
and rebuffs without impatience, vexation and murmuring, 
and if humbly and charitably we think that the door- 
keeper does not know us and that God makes him thus 
speak roughly to us, then, O Brother Leo, say to thyself, 
This is pet-feel: joy. And if we persist to knock andthe door- 
keeper gets angry because of our importunity, if he comes 
out and mercilessly boxes our ears, saying: 'Begone, 
vile cowards, go to the poor-house. Who are you? Cer- 
tainly you will not eat here!' — if we patiently hear all 
these insults, and lovingly accept them with a whole 
heart, write, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy. And 

* These words alone take us back at once to the four- 
teenth century. (However see first text of Celano, Edouard 
d'Alencon's edit, pages 181-84). St Francis often said to 
his companions concerning the Portiuncula: " Be mindful, 

sons, never to forsake this spot. If you are driven out on 
one side, come back the other. For this place is truly 
holy, it is the dwelling-place of God. Here, when we were 
few in number, the Most High increased us. Here by the 
light of His wisdom he has illuminated the hearts of his 
poor one. Here by the vision of His love He has inflamed 
our wills. He who prayeth here with a devout heart will 
obtain what he asks, and he who sinneth here shall be 
more grievously punished. Therefore, sons, honour this 
place, which is the habitation of God, for ever with your 
whole heart praise, and bless and confess Him here." — 

1 Celano, p. ill, E. d'Alencon's edition. 



The Chapter on Perfect Joy 143 

ifin the midst of all these miseries, urged by hunger, be- 
numbed with cold, and on the approach of night, we 
continue to knock, call and implore with tears that the 
door may be opened, and ifin anger the door-keeper says: 
'Ah! these wretches, these impudent" fellows, I will 
quiet them!' — then if he comes out with a knotty stick, 
seizes us by the hood and throws us to the ground in the 
mud and snow, and if he knocks us with the foresaid 
bludgeon to such a degree that we are covered with 
wounds; if we suffer all these evils, insults and abuse 
with joy, thinking that we must patiently suffer and share 
the griefs of the blessed Christ, O Brother Leo, that would 
be perfect joy! Among all the gifts of the Holy Spirit 
which Christ grants to His friends, the chief is to con- 
quer oneself, to bear shame willingly for Christ and 
the love of God. For all the aforesaid marvellous gifts 
we may not glorify ourselves ; all belongs to God and not 
to us: 'What hast thou that thou hast not received? And 
if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst 
not received it?" (i Cor. iv, 7.) It is in the Cross, in afflic- 
tion and tribulation that we must glory, for these belong 
to us, which makes the Apostle say: 'God forbid that 
I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord'" (Gal. 
vi, 14).* 

* " I truly do not consider myself a Friar Minor if I am 
not found in this state of mind: Suppose that in my 
quality of Superior I were to go to the brothers at 
Chapter, speak to them, and give them advice, and after- 
wards they were to say, 'You do not suit us any longer; 
you are not learned, you do not know how to speak, you 
are simple and ignorant'; suppose that, finally, I were 
expelled, covered with reproaches and ill-treated by every 
one, well, if I do not preserve the same calmness of de- 
meanour, the same joy of the spirit, the same desire of 
perfection, I am indeed not a Friar Minor." — Words put 
by St Bonaventura into the mouth of St Francis, Leg. maj. } 
vi, 5- 



144 The Writings of St Francis 



Testimony of Jacques de Vitry Concerning 
the Friars Minor 

I. Extracts from a Letter of October, 1216: 
"T ARRIVED at Milan, which is a hotbed of heretics, 
X remained there a few days and preached the Wordot 
God in several places. There is scarcely anyone in the 
whole town who resists the heretics, except certain holy 
people, men and women, whom wicked and worldly peo- 
ple call Paterini. The Sovereign Pontiff has authorized 
them to preach and to oppose the heretics, and, having 
confirmed their Order, calls them the i Humiliated.' They 
have left all for Christ, meet tog-ether in many places, 
live on the work of their hands, often preach the word of 
God, listen willingly, are perfect and firm in the faith and 
work with success. This Order has so multiplied in the 
Archbishopric of Milan that they form one hundred and 
fifty congregations or assemblies of men and women, 
without counting those who live in private houses." 

Jacques de Vitry then tells of his reception by the new 
Pope Honorius and his episcopal consecration. He con- 
tinues: 

"I have lived some time in the Curia, and I found 
many things contrary to my taste. There is so much 
time taken up with secular and temporal affairs, kings 
and kingdoms, lawsuits and disputes, that one is scarcely 
allowed a moment to say a word on questions of a 
spiritual nature. 

"I have found only one consolation in this country. 
Many people of both sexes, rich and lay, have forsaken 
all for Christ and fled from the world ; they are called 
Friars Minor. The Lord Pope and the Cardinals hold 
them in great esteem. They do not busy themselves at 
all with temporal things, but labour day by day with 
great zeal and fervent charity to rescue lost souls and 
allure them from the vanities of the world. And by the 
grace of God they have already been very successful and 
have attracted many people to them, so much so that 
while listening to their words, they say, ' Come, let us be 
drawn ' — Vent, et cortina cortinam trahat. They live ac- 
cording to the rule of the Primitive Church: 'And the 
multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul.'* 
* Atts iv, 32. 



Testimony of Jacques de Vitry 145 

In the daytime they go into cities and towns to gain 
some pay by their work, and in the evening 1 they return 
to their hermitage or desert place to give themselves up 
to meditation. 

"The women live together near the cities in different 
buildings; they receive nothing and live by the work of 
their hands. They lament and are much troubled because 
the clergy and laity honour them more than they would 
wish. 

"The men of this Order assemble once a year, with 
great profit in an appointed place, to rejoice and live to- 
gether in the Lord ; with the advice of worthy men they 
draw up and publish holy constitutions which are sanc- 
tioned by the Pope. Afterwards, throughout the year, 
they disperse into Lombardy, Etruria, Apulia and Sicily. 
Brother Nicholas, the Lord Pope's Provincial, a holy 
and devout man, has recently left the Curia and joined 
them. But as he was very necessary to the Lord Pope, he 
was recalled by him. I think that, to the shame of the 
prelates, who are like dumb dogs not able to bark,* the 
Lord desires to save many souls before the end of the 
world through these simple and poor men." 

II. Extract from a Letter of March, 1220: 

"T3 ENIER, prior of St Michael, has joined the Order 
JL\.of Friars Minor. This Order has rapidly spread 
over the world, for it copies faithfully the rule of the 
Primitive Church. However, this Order seems rather a 
dangerous one, for it receives not only perfect persons 
but young people and imperfect who ought to be tested 
and tried for some time under conventual discipline, and 
they are sent two by two to all parts of the world." 

II I. Ex tract from the Historia Orientalis: 

* ' ' I *0 the hermits, monks and canons, God has recently 
X added a fourth religious community, a remarkable 
Order and a Holy Rule. If, however, we were carefully 
to consider the state and condition of the Primitive 
Church, we should the rather say that He has not added 
a new Rule, but has restored an old one, that He has 
revived and strengthened a failing and dying religion in 
the evening of a world about to be destroyed, at the 
moment when it was menaced by the son of perdition, 
that He has prepared new athletes to struggle against 
the deadly perils of Antichrist, andtoguardand strengthen 
*See Isa. lvi, 10. 

IO 



146 The Writings of St Francis 

His Church. It is really a religion of the poor of the 
Crucifix and an order of preachers -which we call Friars 
Minor. They are truly Minors and more humble in their 
clothing, nakedness and in their scorn of the world than all 
the Orders of the day. They have one chief Prior whose 
orders and regular constitutions the inferior priors and 
all the other brothers of the same Order, sent by him 
into different parts of the world to preach and save souls, 
respectfully obey. They strive with so much care to dis- 
play in themselves the piety, poverty and humility of the 
primitive Church, they draw with so ardent a thirst 
from the pure waters of the Gospel fount that they not 
only follow the precepts of the Gospel, but they closely 
imitate the teachings and diligently seek to lead an 
apostolic life; they give up all they possess, despise 
themselves and bear their Cross, naked, following in the 
steps of the naked Christ; they leave their robes behind 
like Joseph (Gen. xxxix, 12), and their pitcher like the 
woman of Samaria (John iv, 28). Free they run before 
the Lord and never look back. . . . The Lord Pope has 
sanctioned their Rule; he has allowed them to preach in 
the Churches wherever they go, provided they obtain 
the consent of the prelates of the place, as in respect to 
them is due. They go forth to preach two by two as in 
the sight of the Lord. . . . The poor ones of Christ 
carry neither wallet on the way, nor stick nor bread, and 
neither penny nor money in their girdle; they possess 
neither gold nor silver, and they have no shoes to their 
feet. A friar of this Order has no right to possess any- 
thing. They have neither monastery, church, fields, 
vineyards, animals, houses, property, nor where to lay 
their heads (Luke ix, 58). They do not wear furs or fine 
linen, only woollen tunics with hoods; they have no 
capes, no cloaks, no cowls, and absolutely no other 
garments. If they are invited to dine, they eat and drink 
what is offered them. If alms are given to them, they do 
not lay it by. Once or twice a year, at an appointed 
time and place, they assemble to hold a general chapter, 
except those who would have to come too far or to cross 
the sea. After the chapter, their Superior sends them 
two or more into different regions, provinces and cities. 
Not only by their preaching, but also by the example of 
a holy life and saintly habits, they invite a great number 
of the poor and many noble and rich persons to despise 
the world. These give up their fortunes, dwellings and 
immense riches, and by a happy exchange, give their 



Testimony of Jacques de Vitry 147 

temporal goods for spiritual and clothe themselves in the 
habit of the Friars Minor, namely a tunic of low price 
for a garment and a cord for a girdle. They have so 
multiplied in a short time that there are in every Chris- 
tian province some friars to be found. In themselves as in 
a very pure mirror, spectators may behold scorn of 
the world's vanities; and they only refuse admission 
to the Order to those who are already married or 
who have joined another order. They will not and in- 
deed cannot receive these persons, as reason demands, 
unless with the permission of the wife or of the superior. 
But all others are received without difficulty or opposi- 
tion into the bosom of their Order, so much do they trust 
in divine protection and providence, and have no anxiety 
as to how God will sustain them. They give a tunic and 
cord to those who join them and leave the rest to the 
care of heaven. And the Lord has granted a hundredfold 
to His servants in this world, upon the way they go; He 
is so well pleased in them that we are witness that these 
words are realized to the letter: The Lord Moveth the 
pilgrim and giveth him food and raiment.'* It is con- 
sidered a blessed thing when the friars will receive hos- 
pitality or accept alms. Not only Christians, but Sara- 
cens and men who live in error admire their virtue and 
perfection, and when the friars, burning with zeal, come 
and preach to them, they receive them cordially and 
gladly give them what is needful. We have seen the ori- 
ginal founder and master of this Order: all the rest obey 
him as Chief Prior; he was a simple and illiterate man, 
dear to God and to men; he was called Brother Francis. 
He was roused to such a degree of exaltation, to such 
enthusiasm of spirit, that he was not afraid to come to 
the Christian army before Damietta in Egypt and to ad- 
vance to the camp of the Sultan of Egypt, boldly to fight 
with the shield of faith. The Saracens took him on the 
way: 'I am a Christian,' said he, "conduct me to your 
master.' When he was dragged before him, the cruel 
tyrant was changed into gentleness at sight of the man 
of God, and listened attentively for some days with his 
followers to the preaching of Christ. But he feared that 
some of his soldiers, touched by the efficacy of his words 
and converted to the Lord, should go over to the Chris- 
tian army, so he ordered that he should be conducted 
back to the camp with every kind of respect and precau- 
tion, saying, ' Pray for me, that God may vouchsafe to 
*Deut. x, 18. 

10a 



148 The Writings of St Francis 

reveal to me the law and faith which shall most please 
him.' The Saracens willingly hear all the foresaid Friars 
Minor preach the faith of Christ and the teaching of the 
Gospel until the friars speak plainly of Mohammed as a 
cheat and a liar. Then striking them in a fury, they drive 
them out of the city, and would almost kill them if the 
Lord did not protect them. Such is the holy Order of the 
Friars Minor, the admirable and imitable religion of 
apostolic men, whom God, we believe, has lately raised 
up to attack the son of perdition, Antichrist, and his pro- 
fane disciples." 



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