After the success of the Franciscans and Dominicans, the Carmelites, with the sanction of Innocent IV., adopted the practice of mendicancy, 1245, and the coenobite life was substituted for life in solitary cells. The rules concerning clothing and food were relaxed to meet the climatic conditions of Europe.
A division took place in the order in 1378. The wing, holding to the stricter rule as confirmed by Innocent IV., is known as the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance. Both wings have their respective generals. The Carmelite name most famous in the annals of piety is that of St. Theresa, the Spanish saint who joined herself to the Carmelites, 1533. She aided in founding seventeen convents for women and fourteen for monks. This new branch, the Barefoot Carmelites, spread to different parts of Europe, Mt. Carmel, Africa, Mexico, and other countries. The monks wear leathern sandals, and the nuns a light shoe.9
Of the other numerous monastic orders, the following may be mentioned. The Antonites, or Brothers of the Hospital of St. Antonius0are named after the Egyptian hermit, St. Anthony. The founder, Gaston, prayed to St. Anthony for the deliverance of his son from a disease, then widely prevalent, and called St. Anthony’s fire, morbus sacer. The prayer was answered, and the father and his son devoted themselves to a religious life. The order was sanctioned by Urban II., 1095, and was intended to care for the sick and poor. In 1118 it received from Calixtus II. the church of St. Didier de Mothe, containing St. Anthony’s bones. In 1218 Honorius III. gave the members permission to take monastic vows, and in 1296 Boniface VIII. imposed on them the Augustinian rule. They had houses in France, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. It used to be the custom on St. Anthony’s day to lead horses and cattle in front of their convent in Rome to receive a form of blessing. 721
The Trinitarians, ordo sanctissima Trinitatis de redemptione captivorum, had for their mission the redemption of Christian captives out of the hands of the Saracens and Moors. Their founder was John of Matha (1160–1213). The order was also called the ordo asinorum, Order of the Asses, from the fact that its members rode on asses and never on horseback.2The order of Font Evraud (Fontis Ebraldi in Poitiers) had the peculiarity that monks and nuns were conjoined in associated cloisters, and that the monks were under the supervision of an abbess. The abbess was regarded as the representative of the Virgin Mary, and the arrangement as in conformity with the word of Christ, placing John under the care of Mary. A church built between the male and female cloisters was used in common. The order was founded by Robert d’ Abrissel (d. 1117), whom Urban II. heard preach, and commissioned as a preacher, 1096. Robert was born in Brittany, and founded, 1095, a convent at Craon. He was a preacher of great popular power. The nuns devoted themselves especially to the reclamation of fallen women.3 A special rule forbade the nuns to care for their hair, and another rule commanded them to shave their heads three times a year. 724
The Order of Grammont, founded by Stephen of Auvergne, deserves mention for the high rank it once held in France. It enjoyed the special patronage of Louis VII. and other French sovereigns, and had sixty houses in France. It was an order of hermits. Arrested while on a pilgrimage, by sickness, Stephen was led by the example of the hermits of Calabria to devote himself to the hermit life. These monks went as far in denying themselves the necessities of life as it is possible to do and yet survive,5but monks and nuns became notorious for licentiousness and prostitution. 726
The Brothers of the Sack7wore a dress of rough material cut in the shape of a bag. They had convents in different countries, including England, where they continued to have houses till the suppression of the monasteries. They abstained entirely from meat, and drunk only water. The Franciscans derisively called them Bushmen (Boscarioli). They were indefatigable beggars. The Franciscan chronicler, Salimbene, 728is sure Gregory X. was divinely inspired in abolishing the order, for "Christian folk were wearied and burdened with the multitude of beggars."
§ 67. Monastic Prophets.
St. Hildegard and Joachim of Flore.
Literature.—Hildegard’s works in Migne, vol. 197, and some not there given in Pitra: Analecta sacra. For a list see Preger: Geschichte der deutschen Mystik, I. 13–36.—Lives by Godefrid and Theodorich, contemporaries in Migne.—Dahl, Mainz, 1832.—Clarius, with translation of Hildegard’s letters, 2 vols. Regensburg, 1854.—Richaud, Aix, 1876.—J. P. Schmelzeis, Freiburg, 1897.—P. Franche, Paris, 1903.—Benrath, in Herzog, VIII. 71 sq.—Hildegard’s Causae et curae, ed. by Kaiser, Leipzig, 1903, is a sort of mediaeval manual of medicine.
Joachim’s published works, Liber concordiae novi et veteris Testamenti, Venice, 1519; Expositio in Apocalypsin and Psalterium decem chordarum, Venice, 1527. The errors of Joachim are given in Mansi, xxii. 981 and Denifle: Chartularium Univ., Par I. 272–275.—Salimbene: Chronicon, Parma, 1857; Coulton’s trans., London, 1906.—Luna Consentinus, d. 1224, perhaps an amanuensis: Synopsis virtutum b. Joach. in Ughelli, Italia sacra, IX. 205 sqq.—Gervaise: Hist. de l’abbé Joachim, 2 vols. Paris, 1745.—Reuter: Gesch. der Aufklärung, 1877, pp. 191–218.—Renan in Nouvelles études d’hist. rel., Paris, 1884, pp. 217–323.—*Denifle: Das Evangelium aeternum und die Commission zu Anagni, in Archiv für Lit.- und Kirchengesch., 1885, pp. 49–142. *Döllinger: Die Papstfabeln des Mittelalters, 2d ed. by J. Friedrich, Stuttgart, 1890; Engl. trans. of 1st ed. by H. B. Smith, N. Y., 1872, pp. 364–391.—*Artt: Joachim, in Wetzer-Welte by Ehrle, VI. 1471–1480, and in Herzog by Deutsch, IX. 227–232.—*E. Schott: Die Gedanken Joachims in Brieger’s Zeitschrift, 1902, pp. 157–187.
The monasteries also had their prophets. Men’s minds, stirred by the disasters in Palestine, and by the spread of heresy in Europe, here and there saw beyond the prevailing ritual of church and convent to a new era in which, however, neither hierarchy nor convent would be given up. In the twelfth century the spirit of prophecy broke out almost simultaneously in convents on the Rhine and in Southern Italy. Its chief exponents were Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth of Schoenau, and Joachim, the abbot of Flore. 729 They rebuked the clerical corruption of their time, saw visions, and Joachim was the seer of a new age.
Hildegard (1098–1179), abbess of the Benedictine convent of Disebodenberg, near Bingen on the Rhine, was the most prominent woman in the church of her day. 730 What Bernard of Clairvaux was to France, that, though in a lesser degree, she was to Germany. She received letters from four popes, Eugenius, Anastasius, Adrian, and Alexander III., from the emperors Konrad III. and Frederick Barbarossa, from Bernard and many ecclesiastics in high office as well as from persons of humble position. Her intercessions were invoked by Frederick, by Konrad for his son, 731and by Bernard. Persons from afar were moved to seek her aid, as for example the patriarch of Jerusalem who had heard that a "divine force operated in and through her." 732 Her convent was moved from Disebodenberg to Rupertsberg and she finally became abbess of the convent of Eibingen.
Infirm of body, Hildegard was, by her own statement, the recipient of visions from her childhood. As she wrote to St. Bernard, she saw them "not with the external eye of sense but with the inner eye." The deeper meanings of Scripture touched her breast and burnt into her soul like a flame." 733 Again she said that, when she was forty-two years old, a fiery light of great brightness, coming from the open heavens, transfused her brain and inflamed her whole heart and breast like a flame, as the sun lightens everything upon which his rays fall. 734 What she saw, she saw not in dreams nor in sleep nor in a frenzied state nor in hidden places but while she was awake and in pure consciousness, using the eyes and ears of her inner man according to the will of God. 735 Eugenius III., on a visit to Treves, 1148, investigated her revelations, recognized the genuineness of her miracles, and encouraged her to continue in her course. 736 Bernard spoke of her fame of making known heavenly secrets through the illumination of the Holy Ghost.
It is reported by contemporaries of this godly woman that scarcely a sick person came to her without being healed. 737 Her power was exerted in the convent and outside of it and upon persons of both sexes. People from localities as distant as Sweden sought her healing power. Sometimes the medium used was a prayer, sometimes a simple word of command, sometimes water which, as in one case, healed paralysis of the tongue.
As a censor of the Church, Hildegard lamented the low condition of the clergy, announced that the Cathari would be used to stir up Christendom to self-purification, called attention to the Scriptures and the Catholic faith as the supreme fonts of authority, and bade men look for salvation not to priests but to Christ.
She was also an enthusiastic student of nature. Her treatises on herbs, trees, and fishes are among the most elaborate on natural objects of the Middle Ages. She gives the properties of no less than two hundred and thirteen herbs or their products, and regarded heat and cold as very important qualities of plant life. They are treated with an eye to their medicinal virtue. Butter, she says, is good for persons in ill health and suffering from feverish blood and the butter of cows is more wholesome than the butter of sheep and goats. Licorice, 738which is mildly heating, gives a clear voice and a suave mind, clarifies the eyes, and prepares the stomach for the process of digestion. The "basilisca," which is cold, if placed under the tongue, restores the power of speech to the palsied and, when cooked in wine with honey added, will cure fevers provided it is drunk frequently during the night. 739
A kindred spirit to Hildegard was Elizabeth of Schoenau, who died 1165 at the age of thirty-six.0 She was an inmate of the convent of Schoenau, not far from Bingen, and also had visions which were connected with epileptic conditions. In her visions she saw Stephen, Laurentius, and many of the other saints. In the midst of them usually stood "the virgin of virgins, the most glorious mother of God, Mary." 741 When she saw St. Benedict, he was in the midst of his monkish host, monachalis turba. Elizabeth represented herself as being "rapt out of the body into an ecstasy." 742 In the interest of purity of life she did not shrink from rebuking even the archbishop of Treves and from pronouncing the Apostolic chair possessed with pride and filled with iniquity and impiety. On one occasion she saw Christ sitting at the judgment with Pilate, Judas, and those who crucified him on his left hand and also, alas! a great company of men and women whom she recognized as being of her order. 743 Hildegard and Elizabeth have a place in the annals of German mysticism.
Joachim of Flore, 744d. 1202, the monastic prophet of Southern Europe, exercised a wide influence by his writings, especially through the adoption of his views by the Spiritual wing of the Franciscan order. He was first abbot of the Cistercian convent of Corazza in Calabria, and then became the founder and abbot of St. John in Flore. Into this convent he introduced a stricter rule than the rule of the Cistercians. It became the centre of a new order which was sanctioned by Coelestin III., 1196.
Joachim enjoyed the reputation of a prophet during his lifetime. 745 He had the esteem of Henry VI., and was encouraged in his exegetical studies by Lucius III. and other popes. After his death his views became the subject of conciliar and papal examination. The Fourth Lateran condemned his treatment of the Trinity as defined by Peter the Lombard. Peter had declared that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a certain supreme essence, quaedam summa res, and this, according to Joachim, involved a substitution of a quaternity for the Trinity. Those who adopted Joachim’s view were condemned as heretics, but Joachim and the convent of Flore were distinctly excepted from condemnation. 746
Joachim’s views on the doctrine of the Trinity are of slight importance. The abbot has a place in history by his theory of historical development and his eschatology. His opinions are set forth in three writings of whose genuineness there is no question, an exposition of the Psalms, an exposition of the Apocalypse, and a Concord of the Old and New Testaments.7
Interwoven with his prophecies is Joachim’s theory of historical development. There are three ages in history. The Old Testament age has its time of beginning and bloom. So has that of the New Testament. But a third age is to follow. The basis for this theory of three periods is found in a comparison of the Old and New Testaments, a comparison which reveals a parallelism between the leading periods of the history of Israel and the periods of Christian history. This parallelism was disclosed to Joachim on an Easter night, and made as clear as day.
The first of the three ages was the age of the Father, the second the age of the Son, of the Gospel, and the sacraments, the third, the age of the Holy Spirit which was yet to come. The three were represented by Peter, Paul, and John. The first was an age of law, the second of grace, the third of more grace. The first was characterized by fear, the second by faith, the third was to be marked by charity. The first was the age of servants, the second of freedmen, the third of friends. The first brought forth water, the second wine, the third was to bring forth oil. The first was as the light of the stars, the second of the dawn, the third of the perfect day. The first was the age of the married, and corresponded to the flesh; the second of priests, with the elements of the flesh and the Spirit mixed; the third of monks, and was to be wholly spiritual. Each of these ages had a beginning, a maturity, and an end.8 The first began with Adam, and entered upon its maturity with Abraham. The second began in the days of Elijah, and entered upon its maturity with Christ. The third began in the days of St. Benedict in the sixth century. Its maturity had already begun in the days of Joachim himself. The consummation was to begin in 1260.
The Gospel of the letter is temporal not eternal, and gives way in the third period to the Eternal Gospel, Rev. 14:6. Then the spiritual meaning of the Gospel will be fully known. Joachim did not mean to deny the permanent authority of the two Testaments, when he put into his third period the full understanding of them, in the spiritual sense, and the complete embodiment of their teachings in life and conduct. The Eternal Gospel he described, not as a newly written revelation, but as the spiritual and permanent message of Christ’s Gospel, which is hidden under the surface of the letter. This Gospel he also called the Spiritual Gospel, and the Gospel of the Kingdom. 749 It was to be preached in the whole earth and the Jews, Greeks, and the larger part of mankind, were to be converted. A spiritual Church would result, 750by which was meant, not a church separate from the papacy, but a church purified. The Eternal Gospel was to be proclaimed by a new order, the "little ones of Christ." 751 In his Apocalypse, Joachim speaks of two prophets of this new order. 752 This prediction was subsequently applied to Francis and Dominic.
It was in the conception of the maturition of the periods as much as in the succession of the periods that the theory of development is brought out. 753 In the development of the parallels between the history of Israel and the Christian Church, Joachim discovered a time in each to correspond to the seven seals of the Apocalypse. The first seal is indicated in the Old Testament by the deliverance from Egypt, in the New by the resurrection of Christ; the second seal respectively by the experiences in the wilderness and the persecutions of the ante-Nicene Church; the third by the wars against the Canaanites and the conflict with heresy from Constantine to Justinian; the fourth by the peril from the Assyrians and the age lasting to Gregory III., d. 741 the fifth by the Babylonian oppression and the troubles under the German emperors; and the sixth by the exile, and the twelfth Christian century with all the miseries of that age, including the violence of the Saracens, and the rise of heretics. The opening of the seventh seal was near at hand, and was to be followed by the Sabbatic rest.
Joachim was no sectary. He was not even a reformer. Like many of his contemporaries he was severe upon the vices of the clergy of his day. "Where is quarrelling," he exclaims, "where fraud, except among the sons of Juda, except among the clergy of the Lord? Where is crime, where ambition, except among the clergy of the Lord?" 754 His only remedy was the dawning of the third age which he announced. He waged no polemic against the papacy, 755submitted himself and his writings dutifully to the Church, 756and called the church of Peter the throne of Christ. He was a mystical seer who made patient biblical studies, 757and saw in the future a more perfect realization of the spiritual Church, founded by Christ, exempt from empty formalism and bitter disputes.
An ecclesiastical judgment upon Joachim’s views was precipitated by the Franciscan Gerardus of Borgo San Donnino, who wrote a tract called the Introduction to the Eternal Gospel, 758expounding what he considered to be Joachim’s teachings. He declared that Joachim’s writings were themselves the written code of the Eternal Gospel, 759which was to be authoritative for the third age, as the Old and New Testaments were authoritative for the ages of the Father and the Son. Of this last age the abbot of Flore was the evangelist.
When Gerard’s work appeared, in 1254, it created a great stir and was condemned by professors at Paris, the enemies of the Franciscans, William of St. Amour among the number. The strict wing of the Franciscans, the Spirituals, adopted some of Joachim’s views and looked upon him as the prophet of their order. Articles of accusation were brought before Innocent IV. His successor, Alexander IV., in 1255 condemned Gerardo and his book without, however, passing judgment upon Joachim. 760 Gerardo and other Spirituals were thrown into prison, where Gerardo died eighteen years after. John of Parma was deposed from his office as head of the Franciscans for his Joachimism. The Franciscan chronicler Salimbene was also for a while a disciple of Joachim, and reports that the prophet predicted that the order of the Friars Minor should endure to the end while the order of Preachers should pass away. 761 In 1263 a synod of Arles condemned the writings of Joachim. A century after Joachim’s death, the Franciscan Spirituals, John Peter Olivi and Ubertino da Casale, were identified with his views. The traces of Joachimism are found throughout the Middle Ages to their close. Joachim was the millenarian prophet of the Middle Ages.
§ 68. The Mendicant Orders.
For literature, see §§ 69, 72.
A powerful impulse was imported into monasticism and the life of the mediaeval Church by the two great mendicant orders, 762the Dominicans and the Franciscans, who received papal sanction respectively in 1216 and 1223. In their first period they gained equally the esteem of scholars, princes, and popes, and also the regard of the masses, though not without a struggle. 763 Dante praised them; great ecclesiastics like Grosseteste welcomed their coming to England as the dawn of a new era. Louis IX. would have divided his body between them. But it has been questioned whether the good services which they rendered in the first years of their career are not more than counterbalanced by their evil activity in later periods when their convents became a synonym for idleness, insolence, and ignorance.
The appearance of these two organizations was without question one of the most momentous events of the Middle Ages, 764and marks one of the notable revivals in the history of the Christian Church. They were the Salvation Army of the thirteenth century, and continue to be powerful organizations to this day. At the time when the spirit of the Crusades was waning and heresies were threatening to sweep away the authority, if not the very existence of the hierarchy, Francis d’Assisi and Dominic de Guzman, an Italian and a Spaniard, united in reviving the religious energies and strengthening the religious organization of the Western Church. As is usually the case in human affairs, the personalities of these great leaders were more powerful than solemnly enacted codes of rules. They started monasticism on a new career. They embodied Christian philanthropy so that it had a novel aspect. They were the sociological reformers of their age. They supplied the universities and scholastic theology with some of their most brilliant lights. The prophecies of Joachim of Flore were regarded as fulfilled in Francis and Dominic, who were the two trumpets of Moses to arouse the world from its slumber, the two pillars appointed to support the Church. The two orders received papal recognition in the face of the recent decree of the Fourth Lateran against new monastic orders.
Two temperaments could scarcely have differed more widely than the temperaments of Francis and Dominic. Dante has described Francis as an Ardor, inflaming the world with love; Dominic as a Brightness, filling it with light.
The one was all seraphical in Ardor,
The other by his wisdom upon earth
A Splendor was of light cherubical. 765
Neither touched life on so many sides as did Bernard. They were not involved in the external policies of states. They were not called upon to heal papal schisms, nor were they brought into a position to influence the papal policy. But each excelled the monk of Clairvaux as the fathers of well-disciplined and permanent organizations.
Francis is the most unpretentious, gentle, and lovable of all monastic saints.6 Dominic was cold, systematic, austere. Francis is greater than his order, and moves through his personality. Dominic was a master disciplinarian, and has exerted his influence through the rules of his order. Francis has more the elements of a Christian apostle, Dominic of an ecclesiastical statesman. Francis we can only think of as mingling with the people and breathing the free air of the fields; Dominic we think of easily as lingering in courts and serving in the papal household. Francis’ lifework was to save the souls of men; Dominic’s lifework was to increase the power of the Church. The one sought to carry the ministries of the Gospel to the masses; the other to perpetuate the integrity of Catholic doctrine. Francis has been celebrated for the humbleness of his mind and walk; Dominic was called the hammer of the heretics.
It is probable that on at least three occasions the two leaders met. 767 In 1217 they were both at Rome, and the curia proposed the union of the two brotherhoods in one organization. Dominic asked Francis for his cord, and bound himself with it, saying he desired the two orders to be one. Again, 1218, they met at the Portiuncula, Francis’ beloved church in Assisi, and on the basis of what he saw, Dominic decided to embrace mendicancy, which his order adopted in 1220. Again in 1221 they met at Rome, when Cardinal Ugolino sought to manipulate the orders in the interest of the hierarchy. This Francis resented, but in vain,
It was the purpose neither of Francis nor Dominic to reform existing orders, or to revive the rigor of rules half-obeyed. It may be doubted whether Francis, at the outset, had any intention of founding an organization. His object was rather to start a movement to transform the world as with leaven. They both sought to revive Apostolic practice.
The Franciscan and Dominican orders differed from the older orders in five important particulars.
The first characteristic feature was absolute poverty. Mendicancy was a primal principle of their platforms. The rules of both orders, the Franciscans leading the way, forbade the possession of property. The corporation, as well as the individual monk, was pledged to poverty. The intention of Francis was to prohibit forever the holding of corporate property as well as individual property among his followers. 768
The practice of absolute poverty had been emphasized by preachers and sects in the century before Francis and Dominic began their careers, and sects, such as the Humiliati, the Poor Men of Lombardy, and the Poor Men of Lyons, were advocating it in their time. Robert d’Abrissel, d. 1117, had for his ideal to follow "the bare Christ on the cross, without any goods of his own."9 One of the biographers of Bernard of Thiron, d. 1117, calls him "Christ’s poor man," pauper Christi, and says that this "man, poor in spirit, followed unto death the Poor Lord." 770 Likewise the followers of Norbert, the founder of the Premonstrant order, were called the "poor men of Christ," pauperes Christi. Of another itinerant preacher, Vitalis of Savigny, who lived about the same time, his biographer said that he decided to bear Christ’s light yoke by walking in the steps of the Apostles. 771 The minds of select men and classes of men were deeply moved in the thirteenth century to follow closely the example of the Apostles, and they regarded Christ as having taught and practised absolute poverty. Arnold of Brescia’s mind worked in the same direction, as did also the heretical sects of Southern France and Northern Italy. The imitation of Christ lay near to their hearts, and it remained for Francis of Assisi to realize most fully this pious ideal of the thirteenth century. 772
The second feature was their devotion to practical activities in society. The monk had fled into solitude from the day when St. Anthony retired to the Thebaid desert. The Black and Gray Friars, as the Dominicans and Franciscans were called from the colors of their dress, threw themselves into the currents of the busy world. To lonely contemplation they joined itinerancy in the marts and on the thoroughfares.3 They were not satisfied with warring against their own flesh. They made open warfare upon the world. They preached to the common people. They relieved poverty. They listened to the complaints of the oppressed. 774
A third characteristic of the orders was the lay brotherhoods which they developed, the third order, called Tertiaries, or the penitential brothers, fratres de poenitentia.5Convents, like Hirschau, had before initiated laymen into monastic service. But the third order of the Franciscans and Dominicans were lay folk who, while continuing at their usual avocations, were bound by oath to practise the chief virtues of the Gospel. There was thus opened to laymen the opportunity of realizing some of that higher merit belonging theretofore only to the monastic profession. Religion was given back to common life.
A fourth feature was their activity as teachers in the universities. They recognized that these new centres of education were centres of powerful influence, and they adapted themselves to the situation. Twenty years had scarcely elapsed before the Franciscans and Dominicans entered upon a career of great distinction at these universities. Francis, it is true, had set his face against learning, and said that demons had more knowledge of the stars than men could have. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. To a novice he said, "If you have a psaltery, you will want a breviary; and if you have a breviary, you will sit on a high chair like a prelate, and say to your brother, ’Bring me a breviary.’ " To another he said, "The time of tribulation will come when books will be useless and be thrown away." 776 But from Alexander IV. and his successors the Franciscans received special privileges for establishing schools, and, in spite of vigorous opposition, both orders gained entrance to the University of Paris. The Dominicans led the way, and established themselves very early at the seats of the two great continental universities, Paris and Bologna. 777 Their convent at Paris, St. Jacques, established in 1217, they turned into a theological school. Carrying letters of recommendation from Honorius III., they were at first well received by the authorities of the university. The Franciscans established their convent in Paris, 1230. Both orders received from the chancellor of Paris license to confer degrees, but their arrogance and refusal to submit to the university regulations soon brought on bitter opposition. The popes took their part, and Alexander IV. 778commanded the authorities to receive them to the faculty. Compliance with this bull was exceedingly distasteful, for the friars acknowledged the supreme authority of a foreign body. The populace of Paris and the students hooted them on the streets and pelted them with missiles. It seemed to Humbert, the general of the Dominicans, as if Satan, Leviathan, and Belial had broken loose and agreed to beset the friars round about and destroy, if possible, the fruitful olive which Dominic, of most glorious memory, had planted in the field of the Church. 779 In 1257 Alexander IV. could congratulate all parties that tranquillity had been established. 780
At Paris and Oxford, Cologne, and other universities, they furnished the greatest of the Schoolmen. Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, Durandus, were Dominicans; John of St. Giles, Alexander Hales, Adam Marsh, Bonaventura, Duns Scotus, Ockham, and Roger Bacon were of the order of St. Francis. Among other distinguished Franciscans of the Middle Ages were the exegete Nicolas of Lyra, the preachers Anthony of Padua, David of Augsburg, Bernardino of Siena, and Bertholdt of Regensburg (d. 1272); the missionaries, Rubruquis and John of Monte Corvino; the hymn-writers, Thomas of Celano and Jacopone da Todi. Among Dominicans were the mystics, Eckhart and Tauler, Las Casas, the missionary of Mexico, and Savonarola.
The fifth notable feature was the immediate subjection of the two orders to the Apostolic see. The Franciscans and Dominicans were the first monastic bodies to vow allegiance directly to the pope. No bishop, abbot, or general chapter intervened between them and him. The two orders became his bodyguard and proved themselves to be the bulwark of the papacy. Such organized support the papacy had never had before. The legend represents Innocent III. as having seen in a vision the structure of the Lateran supported by two monks.1 These were Francis and Dominic, and the facts of history justified the invention. They helped the pope to establish his authority over the bishops. 782 And wherever they went, and they were omnipresent in Europe, they made it their business to propound the principle of the supremacy of the Holy See over princes and nations and were active in strengthening this supremacy. In the struggle of the empire with the papacy, they became the persistent enemies of Frederick II. who, as early as 1229, banished the Franciscans from Naples. When Gregory IX. excommunicated Frederick in 1239, he confided to the Franciscans the duty of publishing the decree amidst the ringing of bells on every Sunday and festival day. And when, in 1245, Innocent IV. issued his decree against Frederick, its announcement to the public ear was confided to the Dominicans.
Favor followed favor from the Roman court. In 1222 Honorius III. granted, first to the Dominicans and then to the Franciscans, the notable privilege of conducting services in their churches in localities where the interdict was in force. 783 Francis’ will, exhorting his followers not to seek favors from the pope, was set aside. In 1227 Gregory IX. granted his order the right of general burial in their churches 784and a year later repeated the privilege conceded by Honorius 785granting them the right of celebrating mass in all their oratories and churches. 786 They were exempted from episcopal authority and might hear confessions at any place. The powerful Gregory IX. from the very beginning of his pontificate, showed the orders great favor. 787
Orthodoxy had no more zealous champions than the Franciscans and Dominicans. They excelled all other orders as promoters of religious persecution and hunters of heretics. In Southern France they wiped out the stain of heresy with the streams of blood which flowed from the victims of their crusading fanaticism. They were the leading instruments of the Inquisition. Torquemada was a Dominican, and so was Konrad of Marburg. As early as 1232 Gregory IX. confided the execution of the Inquisition to the Dominicans, but the order of Francis demanded and secured a share in the gruesome work. Under the lead of Duns Scotus the Franciscans became the unflagging champions of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary which was pronounced a dogma in 1854, as later the Jesuits became the unflagging champions of the dogma of papal infallibility.
The rapid growth of the two orders in number and influence was accompanied by bitter rivalry. The disputes between them were so violent that in 1255 their respective generals had to call upon their monks to avoid strife. The papal privileges were a bone of contention, one order being constantly suspicious lest the other should enjoy more favor at the hand of the pope than itself.
Their abuse of power called forth papal briefs restricting their privileges. Innocent IV. in 1254, in what is known among the orders as the "terrible bull,"8revoked the permission allowing them to admit others than members of the orders to their services on festivals and Sundays and also the privilege of hearing confession except as the parochial priest gave his consent. Innocent, however, was no sooner in his grave than his successor, Alexander IV., announced himself as the friend of the orders, and the old privileges were renewed.
The pretensions of the mendicant friars soon became unbearable to the church at large. They intruded themselves into every parish and incurred the bitter hostility of the secular clergy whose rights they usurped, exercising with free hand the privilege of hearing confessions and granting absolution. It was not praise that Chaucer intended when he said of the Franciscan in his Canterbury Tales,—He was an easy man to give penance.
These monks also delayed a thorough reformation of the Church. They were at first reformers themselves and offered an offset to the Cathari and the Poor Men of Lyons by their Apostolic self-denial and popular sympathies. But they degenerated into obstinate obstructors of progress in theology and civilization. From being the advocates of learning, they became the props of popular ignorance. The virtue of poverty was made the cloak for vulgar idleness and mendicancy for insolence.
These changes set in long before the century closed in which the two orders had their birth. Bishops opposed them. The secular clergy complained of them. The universities ridiculed and denounced them for their mock piety and vices. William of St. Amour took the lead in the opposition in Paris. His sharp pen compared the mendicants to the Pharisees and Scribes and declared that Christ and his Apostles did not go around begging. To work was more scriptural than to beg. 789 They were hypocrites and it remained for the bishops to purge their dioceses of them. Again and again, in after years, did clergy, bishops, and princes appeal to the popes against their intrusive insolence, but, as a rule, the popes were on their side.
The time came in the early part of the fifteenth century when the great teacher Gerson, in a public sermon, enumerated as the four persecutors of the Church, tyrants, heretics, antichrist, and the Mendicants. 790
§ 69. Franciscan Literature.
I. St. Francis: Works in Latin text, ed. by Wadding, Antwerp, 1623, by de la Haye, Paris, 1841, Col., 1849, Paris, 1880-Quaracchi, 1904.—Bernardo da Fivizzano: Oposcoli di S. Fr. d’Assise, Florence, 1880. Gives the Latin text and Ital. trans., the Rule of 1223, St. Francis’ will, letters, etc.—French trans. by Ed. d’Alencon: Les Opuscules de S. François, Paris, 1905.—H. Böhmer: Analekten zur Gesch. des Franc. von Assisi, Francisci opuscula, regula poenitentium, etc., mit einer Einleittung, Tübingen, 1904.—Writings of St. Francis of Assisi, trans. by Father Paschal Robinson, Phil., 1906.
Lives.—1. Thomas of Celano: Vita prima, written 1228 at the command of Gregory IX., to justify the canonization of Francis, Rome, 1880.—2. Th. of Celano: Vita secunda, written about 1247 and revealing the struggles within the Franciscan order, ed. by Fivizzano, Rome, 1880. Both lives ed. by H. G. Rosedale: Thomas de Celano, St. F. d’Assisi with a crit. Introd. containing a description with every extant version in the original Latin, N. Y., 1904. Also Ed. d’Alençon: Th. a Celano, S. Franc. Assisiensis vita et miracula, etc., pp. lxxxvii, 481, Rome, 1906.—Fr. of Assisi according to Th. of Celano. His descriptions of the Seraphic Father, 1229–1257, Introd. by H. G. Rosedale, Lond., 1904.—3. Legenda trium sociorum, the Legend of the Three Companions, Leo, Angelo, and Rufino, intimate associates of Francis. Written in 1246 and first publ. in full by the Bollandists as an appendix to Celano’s Lives, Louvaine, 1768, Rome, 1880. It has been preserved in a mutilated condition. The disputes within the order account for the expurgation of parts to suit the lax or papal wing.—4. Speculum perfectionis seu S. Francesci Assisiensis legenda antiquissima, auctore fratre Leone, nunc primum edidit, Paul Sabatier, Paris, 1898; also ed. by Ed. Lemmens, Quaracchi, 1901. Sabatier dates it 1227. Eng. trans. by Constance, Countess de la Warr, Lond., 1902. See note below.—5. Legenda major, or Aurea legenda major, by Bonaventura, in Peltier’s ed., and Quaracchi, 1898, Engl. trans., Douai, 1610, and by Miss Lockhart with Pref. by Card. Manning, Lond., 3d ed., 1889. Written in obedience to the order of the Franciscan Chapter and approved by it at Pisa, 1263. Here the legendary element is greatly enlarged. Once treated as the chief authority, it is now relegated to a subordinate place, as it suppresses the distinctive element represented by Francis’ will.—6. Liber conformitatum, by Bartholomew Albericus of Pisa, d. 1401. Institutes forty comparisons between Francis and Christ. Luther called it der Barfussmönche Eulenspiegel und Alkoran, The owls’ looking-glass and Koran of the Barefoot monks.—7. Actus B. Francesci et sociorum ejus, ed. Sabatier, Paris, 1902. A collection of sayings and acts of Francis, handed down from eye-witnesses and others, hitherto unpubl. and to be dated not later than 1328.—8. Legenda of Julian of Spires. About 1230.—9. Legenda of Bernard of Bess, publ. in the Analecta Franciscana III., Quaracchi, near Florence. A compilation.—10. Francisci beati sacrum commercium cum domina paupertate, with an Ital. trans. by Ed. d’Alençon, Rome, 1900. Engl. trans., The Lady Poverty, by Montgomery Carmichael, N. Y., 1902. Goes back, at least, to the 13th century, as Ubertino da Casale was acquainted with it.—11. The Fioretti, or Little Flowers of St. Francis, first publ., 1476, ed. Sabatier, Paris, 1902, pp. xvi., 250. Engl. trans. by Abby L. Alger, Boston, 1887, and Woodroffe, London, 1905. Belongs to the 14th century. A collection of legends very popular in Italy. Sabatier says none of them are genuine, but that they perfectly reveal the soul of St. Francis,—12. Fratris Fr. Bartholi de Assisio Tractatus de indulgentia S. Mariae de Portiuncula, ed. Sabatier, Paris, 1900. Belongs to the 14th century. See Lit.-zeitung, 1901, 110 sqq.—13. Regula antiqua fratrum et sororum de poenitentia seu tertii ordinis S. Francisci, nunc primum ed., Sabatier, Paris, 1901. See S. Minocchi: La Leggenda antica. Nuova fonte biogr. di S. Francesco d’Assisi tratto da un codice Vaticana, Florence, 1905, pp. 184. Unfavorably noticed by Lempp, in Lit.-zeitung, 1906, p. 509, who says that the contents of the MS. were for the most part drawn from the Speculum perfectionis.
Modern Biographies.—By Chavin De Malan, Paris, 1841, 2d ed., 1845.—K. Hase, Leip. 1856, 2d ed., 1892. First crit. biog.—Mrs. Oliphant, Lond., 1870.—Magliano, 2 vols., Rome, 1874, Eng. trans., N. Y., 1887.—L. de Chérancé, Paris, 1892, Engl. trans., 1901.—Henry Thode, Berlin, 1885, 1904.—*Paul Sabatier, a Protestant pastor: Vie de S. François d’Assise, Paris, 1894. 33d ed., 1906. Crowned by the French Academy. Engl. trans. by L. S. Houghton, N. Y., 1894. I use the 27th ed.—W. J. Knox-Little, Lond., 1896.—P. Doreau, Paris, 1903, p. 648.—A. Barine: S. Fr. d’Assisi et le légende des trois Compagnons, Paris, 1901.—J. Herkless: Francis and Dominic, N. Y., 1904.—H. v. Redern, Schwerin, 1905.—*G. Schnürer: Franz von Assisi. Die Vertiefung des religiösen Lebens im Abendlande zur Zeit der Kreuzzüge, Munich, 1905.—Nino Tamassia: S. Francesco d’Assisi e la sua leggenda, Padua, 1906, p. 216.—F. Van Ortroy: Julien de Spire, biographe de St. François, Brussels, 1890.—J. E. Weis: Julian von Speier, d. 1285, Munich, 1900.—Ed. Lempp: Frère Elie de Cortona, Paris, 1901.—H. Tilemann: Speculum perfectionis und Legenda trium sociorum, Ein Beitrag zur Quellenkritik der Gesch. des hl. Franz. von Assisi, Leip. 1902.—Potthast: Bibl. Hist., II. 1319 sqq. gives a list of ninety biographies. For further Lit. see Zöckler in Herzog, VI. 197–222, and "Engl. Hist. Rev." 1903, 165 sqq., for a list and critical estimate of the lit., W. Goetz: Die Quellen zur Gesch. des hl. Franz von Assisi, Gotha, 1904. First published in Brieger’s Zeitschrift and reviewed in Lit.-zeitung, 1905, pp. 8–10.
II. The Franciscans: Earliest Chronicles.—Jordanus Da Giano: de primitivorum fratrum in Teutoniam missorum conversatione et vita memorabilia, for the years 1207–1238, in Analecta Franciscana, pp. 1–19.—Thomas of Eccleston, a Franciscan: de adventu Minorum in Angliam, 1224–1250 in the Analecta Franciscana and best in Monumenta Franciscana, ed. by J. S. Brewer, with valuable Preface, London, 1858, Engl. trans. by Cuthbert, London, 1903. The volume also contains the Letters of Adam de Marisco, etc.; vol. II., ed. by Richard Howlett, with Preface, contains fragments of Eccleston and other English documents bearing on the Franciscans.—Analecta Franciscana sive chronica aliaque documenta ad historiam Minorum spectantia, Quaracchi, 1885.—Bullarium Franciscanum sive Romanorum pontificum constitutiones, epistolae, diplomata, etc., vols. I.-IV., Rome, 1759, ed. by J. H. Sbaraglea and Rossi, vols. V., VII., Rome, 1898–1904, ed. by Conrad Eubel; the collection extends to 1378.—Seraphicae legationis textus originales, Quaracchi, 1897, containing the Rule of 1223 and other documents. Luke Wadding: Annales Minorum, 7 vols., Lyons, 1625–1648, the most valuable history of the order.—Denifle and Ehrle give valuable materials and criticisms in Archiv für Lit. und Kirchengeschichte d. Mittelalters, vol. I. 145 sqq.; 509–569, III. 553 sqq.; VI. 1I sqq., Berlin, 1885–1891.—Karl Müller: Die Anfänge des Minoriten-ordens und der Bussbruderschaften, Freib., 1885.—A. G. Little: The Grey-friars in Oxford, Oxford, 1891.—Eubel: Die avignonesische Obedienz der Mendikanten-Orden, etc., zur Zeit des grossen Schismas beleuchtet durch die von Clement VII. und Benedict XIII. an dieselben gerichteten Schreiben, Paderborn, 1900.—Pierre Madonnet: Les origines de l’ordre de poenitentia, Freib., 1898; also Les règles et le gouvernement de l’ordre de poenitentia am XIIIe siècle (1212–1234), Paris, 1902.—F. X. Seppelt: Der Kampf der Bettelorden an der Universität Paris in der Mitte des 13ten Jahrh. Heiligenstadt, 1892.—F. Glaser: Die franziskanische Bewegung. Ein Beitrag zur Gesch. sozialer Reformideen im Mittelalter, Stuttg., 1903.—H. Felder: Gesch. der wissenschaftlichen Studien im Franziskanerorden bis c. 1250, Freib., 1904, pp. 557. Ricard St. Clara: St. Claire d’Assise, Paris, 1895.—E. Wauer: Entstehung und Ausbreitung des Klarissenordens besonders in deutschen Minoritenprovinzen, Leip., 1906.—E. Knoth: Ubertino da Casale, Marburg, 19 Bibliothek zu Breslau befindlichen handschrift-lichen Aufzeichnungen von Reden und Tractaten Capistrans, etc., 2 Parts, Breslau, 1903–1905.—L. de Chérancé: St. Antoine de Padoue, Paris, 1906.—Helyot: Relig. Orders, VII. 1–421.—Lea. Hist. of the Inquisition, I. 242–304.—M. Creighton: The Coming of the Friars, in Lectures and Addresses, pp. 69–84.—A. Jessopp: The Coming of the Friars.—Stevenson: Life of Grosseteste, London, 1899, pp. 59–87.—Hauck, IV. 366–483.
Note on the recent literature on St. Francis. A phenomenal impulse was given to the study of the life of St. Francis by the publication of Sabatier’s biography in 1804. This biography, Karl Müller placed "at the summit of modern historical workmanship.," Lit.-zeitung, 1895, pp. 179–186. It showed a mastery of the literature before unknown and a profound sympathy with the spirit of the Italian saint. It has revolutionized the opinion of Protestants in regard to him, and has given to the world a correct picture of the real Francis. Strange that a Protestant pastor should have proved himself the leading modern student of Francis and one of his most devoted admirers! Sabatier has followed up his first work with tireless investigations into the early literature and history of St. Francis and the Franciscans, giving up his pastorate, making tour after tour to Italy, and spending much time in Assisi, where he is held in high esteem, and is pointed out as one of the chief sights of the place. He has been fortunate in his discoveries of documents and, as an editor, he has created a new Franciscan literature. His enthusiasm and labors have stimulated a number of scholars in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland to make a specialty of the early Franciscan literature such as Minocchi, Madonnet, Müller, Lempp, and Schnürer. His Life of St. Francis has been put on the Index because it is said to misrepresent Catholic customs.
While Sabatier’s presentation of Francis’ career and character may be said to have gained general acceptance, except among Franciscans, there is a large difference of opinion in regard to the dates of the early documents and their original contents. This literary aspect of the subject has become greatly complicated by the publication of manuscripts which differ widely from one another and the divergent criticisms of scholars. This confusion has been likened by Müller, Lit.-zeitung, 1902, p. 593, and Lempp, Lit. zeitung, 1906, p. 509, to a thicket through which it is almost impossible to see a path. The confusion grows out of the determined policy of Gregory IX. and the conventual wing of the early Franciscans to destroy all materials which show that Francis was opposed to a strict discipline within the order and insisted upon the rule of absolute poverty. The Franciscan chapter of 1264 ordered all biographies of Francis, written up to that time, destroyed, except the biography by Bonaventura. St. Francis’ insistence upon the rule of absolute poverty, the original Rule, and his will, were to be utterly effaced. The new study, introduced by the clear eye of Sabatier, has gone back of this date, 1264, and rescued the portrait of the real Francis.
The attention of scholars is chiefly concentrated on the Speculum perfectionis published by Sabatier, 1898, and the original Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. The Speculum perfectionis is a life of Francis and, according to Sabatier (Introd. li.), is the first biography, dating back to 1227. The discovery of the document is one of the most interesting and remarkable of recent historical discoveries. The way it came to be found was this:—
Materials for the Life of Francis are contained in a volume entitled Speculum vitae St. Francisci et sociorum ejus, published first at Venice, 1504, and next at Paris, 1509. In studying the Paris edition of 1509, Sabatier discovered 118 chapters ascribed to no author and differing in spirit and style from the other parts. He used the document in the construction of his biography and was inclined to ascribe it to the three companions of Francis,—Leo, Angelo, and Rufino. See Vie de S. François, pp. lxxii. sq. At a later time he found that in several MSS. these chapters were marked as a distinct document. In the MS. in the Mazarin library he found 124 distinctive chapters. In these are included the 16 of the Paris edition of 1509. These chapters Sabatier regards as a distinct volume, the Speculum perfectionis, written by Leo, the primary composition bearing on Francis’ career and teachings. The date for its composition is derived from the Mazarin MS. which gives the date as MCCXXVIII. This date Sabatier finds confirmed by indications in the document itself, p. xxii. etc.
This sympathetic, lucid, and frank narrative puts Francis in a new light, as a martyr to the ambitious designs of Gregory IX. who set aside the rule of absolute poverty which was most dear to Francis’ heart and placed over him a representative of his own papal views. Leo, so Sabatier contends (Introd. p. li.), wrote his work immediately after the announcement by Elias of Cortona of the intention to erect an imposing cathedral over the "Little Poor Man." Leo was unable to suppress his indignation and so uttered his protest against the violent manipulation of Francis’ plan and memory.
Serious objection has been raised to Sabatier’s date of the Speculum perfectionis. In agreement with Minocchi,—Tilemann, Goetz, and others have adopted the date given in the Ognissanti (a convent in Florence) MS. namely MCCCXVII, and by a careful study of the other lives of Francis conclude that the Speculum is a compilation. Some of its contents, however, they agree, antedate Thomas a Celano’s Vita secunda or second Life of Francis or are still older. Müller, Lit.-zeitung, 1899, 49–52, 1902, p. 598, and Lempp, while not accepting the early date of 1227, place the document in the first half of the 13th century and regard it as an authority of the first rank, eine Quelle ersten Ranges. It shows a deep penetration into the real mind and soul of Francis, says Lempp, Lit.-zeitung, 1905, pp. 9 sq. Tilemann also ascribes to the document the highest value. For the numerous articles in Reviews, by Minocchi, van Ortroy, etc., see Tilemann, Speculum perfectionis, p. 4.
If Sabatier has given us the real Francis of history, as there is reason to believe he has, then the spectacle of Francis’ loss of authority by the skilled hand of Cardinal Ugolino, Gregory IX., is one of the most pathetic spectacles in history and Francis stands out as one of the most unselfish and pure-minded men of the Christian centuries.
§ 70. St. Francis d’Assisi.
"Not long the period from his glorious birth,
When, with extraordinary virtue blest,
This wondrous sun began to comfort earth,
Bearing, while yet a child, his father’s ire,
For sake of her whom all as death detest,
And banish from the gate of their desire,
Before the court of heaven, before
His father, too, he took her for his own;
From day to day, then loved her more and more,
Twelve hundred years had she remained, deprived
Of her first spouse, deserted and unknown,
And unsolicited till he arrived.
But lest my language be not clearly seen,
Know, that in speaking of these lovers twain,
Francis and Poverty henceforth, I mean."
—Dante, Paradiso XI., Wright’s trans.
High up in the list of hagiography stands the name of Francis of Assisi, the founder of the order of the Franciscans. Of all the Italian saints, he is the most popular in Italy and beyond it.1
Francesco,—Francis,—Bernardone, 1182–1226, was born and died in Assisi. His baptismal name was Giovanni, John, and the name Francis seems to have been given him by his father, Pietro Bernardone, a rich dealer in textile fabrics, with reference to France, to which he made business journeys. Francis studied Latin and was imperfectly acquainted with the art of writing. He had money to spend, and spent it in gayeties. In a war between Assisi and Perugia he joined the ranks, and was taken prisoner. When released, he was twenty-two. During an illness which ensued, his religious nature began to be stirred. He arose from his bed disgusted with himself and unsatisfied with the world. Again he enlisted, and, starting to join Walter of Brienne in Southern Italy, he proceeded as far as Spoleto. But he was destined for another than a soldier’s career. Turning back, and moved by serious convictions, he retired to a grotto near Assisi for seclusion. He made a pilgrimage to Rome, whether to do penance or not, is not known. His sympathies began to go out to the poor. He met a leper and shrank back in horror at first, but, turning about, kissed the leper’s hand, and left in it all the money he had. He frequented the chapels in the suburbs of his native city, but lingered most at St. Damian, an humble chapel, rudely furnished, and served by a single priest. This became to his soul a Bethel. At the rude altar he seemed to hear the voice of Christ. In his zeal he took goods from his father and gave them to the priest. So far as we know, Francis never felt called upon to repent of this act. Here we have an instance of a different moral standard from our own. How different, for example, was the feeling of Dr. Samuel Johnson, when, for an act of disobedience to his father, he stood, as a full-grown man, a penitent in the rain in the open square of Litchfield, his head uncovered!
The change which had overcome the gay votary of pleasure brought upon Francis the ridicule of the city and his father’s relentless indignation. He was cast out of his father’s house. Without any of those expressions of regret which we would expect from a son under similar circumstances, he renounced his filial obligation in public in these words: "Up to this time I have called Pietro Bernardone father, but now I desire to serve God and to say nothing else than ’Our Father which art in heaven.’ " Henceforth Francis was devoted to the religious life. He dressed scantily, took up his abode among the lepers, washing their sores, and restored St. Damian, begging the stones on the squares and streets of the city. This was in 1208.
Francis now received from the Benedictine abbot of Mt. Subasio the gift of the little chapel, Santa Maria degli Angeli.2 Under the name of the Portiuncula—Little Portion—it became the favorite shrine of the saint and his early companions. There Francis had most of his visions, and there he died. 793 In later years he secured from Honorius III. the remarkable concession of plenary indulgence for every one visiting the chapel between vespers of Aug. 1 to vespers of Aug. 2 each year. This made the Portiuncula a shrine of the first rank.
In 1209 Francis heard the words, "Preach, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. Provide neither silver nor gold, nor brass in your purses." Throwing away his staff, purse, and, shoes, he made these Apostolic injunctions the rule of his life. He preached repentance and gathered about him Bernardo di Quintavallo, Egidio, and other companions. The three passages commanding poverty and taking up the cross, Matt. xvi:24–26; xix:21; Luke ix:1–6, were made their Rule. 794 The Rule meant nothing less than full obedience to the Gospel. The Lesser Brethren, fratres minores, for such came to be their name, begged from door to door, where they could not earn their bread, went barefoot 795and slept in hay lofts, leper hospitals, and wherever else they could find lodgment.
They were to preach, but especially were they to exemplify the precepts of the Gospel in their lives. Living was the most important concern, more important than sermons and than learning. Learning, Francis feared, would destroy humility. To a woman who came to him for alms he gave a copy of the New Testament, which they read at matins, the only book in the convent at the time. The convent did not even possess a breviary. 796 A life of good works and sympathies was what Francis was seeking to emphasize. In his will, Francis calls himself an illiterate, idiota. Thomas à Celano also speaks of him in the same way. The word seems to have had the double sense of a man without education and a man with little more than a primary education. It was also used of laymen in contrast to clerics. Francis’ education was confined to elemental studies, and his biographers are persistent in emphasizing that he was taught directly of God. 797 Two writings in Francis’ handwriting are in existence, one in Assisi and one in Spoleto. 798
In 1210 Francis and some of his companions went to Rome, and were received by Innocent III.9 The English chronicler reports that the pope, in order to test his sincerity, said, "Go, brother, go to the pigs, to whom you are more fit to be compared than to men, and roll with them, and to them preach the rules you have so ably set forth." Francis obeyed, and returning said, "My Lord, I have done so." 800 The pope then gave his blessing to the brotherhood and informally sanctioned their rule, granted them the tonsure, and bade them go and preach repentance.
The brotherhood increased rapidly. The members were expected to work. In his will Francis urged the brethren to work at some trade as he had done. He compared an idle monk to a drone. 801 The brethren visited the sick, especially lepers, preached in ever extending circles, and went abroad on missionary journeys. Francis was ready to sell the very ornaments of the altar rather than refuse an appeal for aid. He felt ashamed when he saw any one poorer than himself. 802 At this time occurred one of the most remarkable episodes of Francis’ career. He entered into marriage with Poverty. He called Poverty his bride, mother, sister, and remained devoted to her with the devotion of a knight. 803 The story runs thus. Francis, with some companions, went out in search of Poverty. Two old men pointed out her abode on a high mountain. There Poverty, seated "on the throne of her neediness," received them and Francis praised her as the inseparable companion of the Lord, and "the mistress and queen of the virtues." Poverty replied that she had been with Adam in paradise, but had become a homeless wanderer after the fall until the Lord came and made her over to his elect. By her agency the number of believers was greatly increased, but after a while her sister Lady Persecution withdrew from her. Believers lost their fortitude. Then monks came and joined her, but her enemy Avarice, under the name of Discretion, made the monks rich. Finally monasticism yielded completely to worldliness, and Poverty removed wholly from it. Francis now joined himself to Poverty, who gave him and his companions the kiss of peace and descended the mountain with them. A new era was begun. Henceforth the pillow of the friends was a stone, their diet bread and water, and their convent the world. 804
In 1212 Clara of Sciffi entered into the horizon of Francis’ life. She was twelve years his junior and sixteen when she first heard him preach at the Cathedral of Assisi. The sermon entered her soul. With Francis’ aid she escaped from her father’s house, and was admitted to vows by him.5 He conducted her to a house of Benedictine nuns. A younger sister, Agnes, followed Clara. The Chapel of St. Damian was set apart for them, and there the order of Clarisses was inaugurated. Clara outlived Francis, and in 1253 expired in the presence of brothers Leo, Angelo, and Ginefro.
In 1217 Francis was presented to Honorius III. and the curia. At the advice of Cardinal Ugolino, later Gregory IX., he prepared himself and memorized the sermon. Arrived in the pontiff’s presence, he forgot what he had prepared and delivered an impromptu discourse, which won the assembly.
Francis made evangelistic tours through Italy which were extended to Egypt and Syria 1219. Returning from the East the little Poor Man, il poverello, found a new element had been introduced into the brotherhood through the influence of the stern disciplinarian Ugolino. This violent change made the rest of the years a time of bitter, though scarcely expressed, sorrow for him. Passing through Bologna in 1220, he was pained to the depths at seeing a house being erected for the brothers. Cardinal Ugolino had determined to manipulate the society in the interest of the curia. He had offered Francis his help, and Francis had accepted the offer. Under the cardinal’s influence, a new code was adopted in 1221, and still a third in 1223 in which Francis’ distinctive wishes were set aside. The original Rule of poverty was modified, the old ideas of monastic discipline introduced, and a new element of absolute submission to the pope added. The mind of Francis was too simple and unsophisticated for the shrewd rulers of the church. The policy of the ecclesiastic henceforth had control of the order. 806 Francis was set aside and a minister-general, Pietro di Catana, a doctor of laws and a member of the nobility was put at the head of the society. This was the condition of affairs Francis found on his return from Syria. He accepted it and said to his brethren, "From henceforth I am dead for you. Here is brother Peter di Catana whom you and I will obey," and prostrating himself, he promised the man who had superseded him obedience and submission. 807
This forced self-subordination of Francis offers one of the most touching spectacles of mediaeval biography. Francis had withheld himself from papal privileges. He had favored freedom of movement. The skilled hand of Ugolino substituted strict monastic obedience. Organization was to take the place of spontaneous devotion. Ugolino was, no doubt, Francis’ real as well as professed friend. He laid the foundation of the cathedral in Assisi to his honor, and canonized him two years after his death. But Francis’ spirit he did not appreciate. Francis was henceforth helpless to carry out his original ideas,8and yet, without making any outward sign of insubordination, he held tenaciously to them to the end.
These ideas are reaffirmed in Francis’ famous will. This document is one of the most affecting pieces in Christian literature. Here Francis calls himself "little brother," frater parvulus. All he had to leave the brothers was his benediction, the memory of the early days of the brotherhood, and counsels to abide by the first Rule. This Rule he had received from no human teacher. The Almighty God himself had revealed it unto him, that he ought to live according to the mode of the Holy Gospel. He reminded them how the first members loved to live in poor and abandoned churches. He bade them not accept churches or houses, except as it might be in accordance with the rule of holy poverty they had professed. He forbade their receiving bulls from the papal court, even for their personal protection. At the same time, he pledged his obedience to the minister-general and expressed his purpose to go nowhere and do nothing against his will "for he is my lord." Through the whole of the document there runs a chord of anguish. 809
Francis’ heart was broken. Never strong, his last years were full of infirmities. Change of locality brought only temporary relief. The remedial measures of the physician, such as the age knew, were employed. An iron, heated to white heat, was applied to Francis’ forehead. Francis shrank at first, but submitted to the treatment, saying, "Brother Fire, you are beautiful above all creatures, be favorable to me in this hour." He jocosely called his body, Brother Ass.0 The devotion of the people went beyond all bounds. They fought for fragments of his clothing, hairs from his head, and even the parings of his nails.
Two years before his death Francis composed the Canticle to the Sun, which Renan has called the most perfect expression of modern religious feeling. 811 It was written at a time when he was beset by temptations, and blindness had begun to set in. The hymn is a pious outburst of passionate love for nature. It soars above any other pastorals of the Middle Ages. Indeed Francis’ love for nature is rare in the records of his age, and puts him into companionship with that large modern company who see poems in the clouds and hear symphonies in flowers. He loved the trees, the stones, birds, and the plants of the field. Above all things he loved the sun, created to illuminate our eyes by day, and the fire which gives us light in the night time, for "God has illuminated our eyes by these two, our brothers."
Francis had a message for the brute creation and preached to the birds. "Brother birds," he said on one occasion, "you ought to love and praise your Creator very much. He has given you feathers for clothing, wings for flying, and all things that can be of use to you. You have neither to sow, nor to reap, and yet He takes care of you." And the birds curved their necks and looked at him as if to thank him. He would have had the emperor make a special law against killing or doing any injury to, our sisters, the birds." 812 Later tradition narrated very wonderful things about his power over nature, 813as for example the taming of the fierce wolf of Gubbio. He was the terror of the neighborhood. He ran at Francis with open mouth, but laid himself down at Francis’ feet like a lamb at his words, "Brother Wolf, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to do no evil to me or to any man." Francis promised him forgiveness for all past offences on condition of his never doing harm again to human being. The beast assented to the compact by lowering his head and kneeling before him. He became the pet of Gubbio.
The last week of his life, the saint had repeated to him again and again the 142d Psalm, beginning with the words, "I cry with my voice unto Jehovah," and also his Canticle to the Sun. He called in brothers Angelo and Leo to sing to him about sister Death. 814 Elias of Cortona, who had aided the Roman curia in setting aside Francis’ original Rule, remonstrated on the plea that the people would regard such hilarity in the hour of death as inconsistent with saintship. But Francis replied that he had been thinking of death for two years, and now he was so united with the Lord, that he might well be joyful in Him. 815 And so, as Thomas à Celano says, "he met death singing." 816 At his request they carried him to the Portiuncula chapel. On his way he asked that his bed be turned so that once more his face might be towards Assisi. He could no longer see, but he could pray, and so he made a supplication to heaven for the city. 817 At the church he broke bread with the brethren, performing the priestly service with his own lips. On Oct. 3, 1226, to use Brother Leo’s words, he "migrated to the Lord Jesus Christ whom he had loved with his whole heart, and followed most perfectly."
Before the coffin was closed, great honors began to be heaped upon the saintly man. The citizens of Assisi took possession of the body, and Francis’ name has become the chief attraction of the picturesque and somnolent old town. He was canonized two years later. 818 The services were held in Assisi, July 26, 1228, Gregory IX. being present. The following day, the pontiff laid the corner stone of the new cathedral to Francis’ memory. It was dedicated by Innocent IV. in 1243, and Francis’ body was laid under the main altar. 819 The art of Cimabue and Giotto has adorned the sanctuary within. The statuary of the modern sculptor, Dupré, in front, represents the great mendicant in the garb of his order with arms crossed over his chest, and his head bowed. Francis was scarcely dead when Elias of Cortona made the astounding announcement of the stigmata. These were the marks which Francis is reported to have borne on his body, corresponding to the five wounds on Christ’s crucified body. In Francis’ case they were fleshy, but not bloody excrescences. The account is as follows. During a period of fasting and the most absorbed devotion, Christ appeared to Francis on the morning of the festival of the Holy Cross, in the rising sun in the form of a seraph with outstretched wings, nailed to the cross. The vision gone, Francis felt pains in his hands and side. He had received the stigmata. This occurred in 1224 on the Verna, 820a mountain on the Upper Arno three thousand feet above the sea.
The historical evidence for the reality of these marks is as follows. It was the day after Francis’ death that Elias of Cortona, as vicar of the order, sent letters in all directions to the Franciscans, announcing the fact that he had seen the stigmata on Francis’ body. His letter contained these words: "Never has the world seen such a sign except on the Son of God. For a long time before his death, our brother had in his body five wounds which were truly the stigmata of Christ, for his hands and feet have marks as of nails, without and within, a kind of scars, while from his side, as if pierced by a lance, a little blood oozed." The Speculum Perfectionis, perhaps the first biography of Francis, refers to them incidentally, but distinctly, in the course of a description of the severe temptations by which Francis was beset. 821 Thomas à Celano, not later than 1230, describes them more at length, and declares that a few saw them while Francis was still alive. Gregory IX. in 1237 called upon the whole Church to accept them, and condemned the Dominicans for calling their reality in question. 822 The first portrait of Francis, dating from 1236, exhibits the marks.
On the other hand, a very strong argument against their genuineness is the omission of all reference to them by Gregory IX. in his bull canonizing Francis, 1228. Francis’ claim to saintship, we would think, could have had no better authentication, and the omission is inexplicable. 823
Three explanations have been given of the stigmata on the supposition that Francis’ body really bore the scars. 1. They were due to supernatural miracle. This is the Catholic view. In 1304 Benedict XI. established a festival of the stigmata. 2. They were the product of a highly wrought mental state proceeding from the contemplation of Christ on the cross. This is the view of Sabatier.4 3. The third explanation treats them as a pious fraud practised by Francis himself, who from a desire to feel all the pains Christ felt, picked the marks with his own fingers. 825 Such a course seems incredible. In the absence of a sufficient moral reason for the impression of the stigmata, it is difficult for the critical mind to accept them. On the other hand, the historical attestation is such that an effort is required to deny them. So far as we know, Francis never used the stigmata to attest his mission. 826
The study of the career of Francis d’Assisi, as told by his contemporaries, and as his spirit is revealed in his own last testament, makes the impression of purity of purpose and humility of spirit,—of genuine saintliness. He sought not positions of honor nor a place with the great. With simple mind, he sought to serve his fellow-men by republishing the precepts of the Gospel, and living them out in his own example. He sought once more to give the Gospel to the common people, and the common people heard him gladly. He may not have possessed great strength of intellect. He lacked the gifts of the ecclesiastical diplomat, but he certainly possessed glowing fervor of heart and a magnetic personality, due to consuming love for men. He was not a theological thinker, but he was a man of practical religious sympathies to which his deeds corresponded. He spoke and acted as one who feels full confidence in his divinely appointed mission.7 He spoke to the Church as no one after him did till Luther came.
Few men of history have made so profound an impression as did Francis. His personality shed light far and near in his own time. But his mission extends to all the centuries. He was not a foreigner in his own age by any protest in matters of ritual or dogma, but he is at home in all ages by reason of his Apostolic simplicity and his artless gentleness. Our admiration for him turns not to devotion as for a perfect model of the ideal life. Francis’ piety, after all, has a mediaeval glow. But, so far as we can know, he stands well among those of all time who have discerned the meaning of Christ’s words and breathed His spirit. So Harnack can call him the "wonderful saint of Assisi," and Sabatier utter the lofty praise, that it was given to him to divine the superiority of the spiritual priesthood." 828
The Canticle of The Sun
O most high, almighty, good Lord God, to Thee belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!
Praised be my Lord God with all His creatures, and specially our brother the sun, who brings us the day and who brings us the light; fair is he and shines with a very great splendor: O Lord he signifies to us Thee!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, the which He has set clear and lovely in heaven.
Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind and for air and cloud, calms and all weather by the which Thou upholdest life in all creatures.
Praised be my Lord for our sister water, who is very serviceable unto us and humble and precious and clean.
Praised be my Lord for our brother fire, through whom Thou givest us light in the darkness; and he is bright and pleasant and very mighty and strong.
Praised be my Lord for our mother the earth, the which doth sustain us and keep us, and bringeth forth divers fruits and flowers of many colors, and grass.
Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for His love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed are they who peaceably shall endure, for Thou, O most Highest, shalt give them a crown.
Praised be my Lord for our sister, the death of the body, from which no man escapeth. Woe to him who dieth in mortal sin! Blessed are they who are found walking by the most holy will, for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.
Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks unto Him and serve Him with great humility.9
§ 71. The Franciscans.
"Sweet Francis of Assisi, would that he were here again!"
The Brethren Minor—fratres minores, or Minorites, the official title of the Franciscans—got their name from the democratic faction in Assisi, the Minores, whom Francis at a time of feud reconciled to the party of the aristocrats. Before the curia at Rome, Francis insisted upon the application of the name as a warning to the members not to aspire after positions of distinction.0 They spread rapidly in Italy and beyond; but before the generation had passed away to which Francis belonged, the order was torn by internal strife, growing out of the attempt to conserve the principles originally laid down by Francis. The history of no other order has anything to show like this protracted conflict within its own membership over a question of principle. The protracted dispute has an almost unique place in the polemic theology of the Middle Ages.
According to the Rule of 1210 and Francis’ last will they were to be a free brotherhood devoted to evangelical poverty and Apostolic practice, rather than a close organization bound by precise rules. 831 Innocent III. counselled him to take for his model the rule of the older orders, but Francis declined and went his own path. He builded upon a few texts of Scripture. From 1216, when Cardinal Ugolino became associated with the order as patron and counsellor, a new influence was felt, and rigid discipline was substituted for the freer organization of Francis.
At the chapter of 1217, the decision was made to send missionaries beyond the confines of Italy. Elias of Cortona, once a mattress-maker in Assisi and destined to be notorious for setting aside Francis’ original plan, led a band of missionaries to Syria. Others went to Germany, Hungary, France, Spain and England. As foreign missionaries, the Franciscans showed dauntless enterprise, going south to Morocco and east as far as Pekin. They enjoy the distinction of having accompanied Columbus on his second journey to the New World and were subsequently most active in the early American missions from Florida to California and from Quebec along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes and southward to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Rule of 1221, by its lack of unity and decision, betrays two influences at work, one proceeding from Ugolino and one from Francis. There are signs of the struggle which had already begun several years before. The Rule placed a general at the head of the order and a governing body was constituted, consisting of the heads of the different houses. Poverty, however, is still enjoined and the duty of labor is emphasized that the members might be saved from becoming idlers. The sale of the products of their labor was forbidden except as it might benefit the sick.
The Rule of 1223, which is briefer and consists of twelve chapters, repeats the preceding code and was solemnly approved by the pope November 29 of the same year. This code goes still further in setting aside the distinguished will of Francis. The mendicant character of the order is strongly emphasized. But obedience to the pope is introduced and a cardinal is made its protector and guardian. The Roman Breviary is ordered to be used as the book of daily worship. Monastic discipline has taken the place of biblical liberty. The strong hand of the hierarchy is evident. The freedom of the Rule of 1210 has disappeared. 832 Peter di Catana was made superior of the order, who, a few months later, was followed by Elias of Cortona. Francis’ appeal in his last testament to the original freedom of his brotherhood and against the new order of things, the papal party did all in its power to suppress altogether.
The Clarisses, the Minorite nuns, getting their name from Clara of Sciffi who was canonized in 1255, were also called Sisters of St. Damian from the Church of St. Damian. Francis wrote a Rule for them which enforced poverty 833and made a will for Clara which is lost. The sisters seem at first to have supported themselves by the toil of their hands, but, by Francis’ advice soon came to depend upon alms. 834 The rule was modified in 1219 and the order was afterwards compelled to adopt the Benedictine rule. 835
The Tertiaries, or Brothers and Sisters of Penitence,6were the third order of St. Francis, the Clarisses being reckoned as the second, and received papal recognition for the first time in the bull of Nicolas IV., 1289. 837 It is doubtful whether Francis ever prescribed for them a definite rule. Of the existence of the Tertiaries during his life there is no doubt. They are called by Gregory IX. in 1228 the Brothers of the Third Order of St. Francis. 838 The Rule of 1289 is made for a lay corporation, and also for a conventual association from which latter, married persons are excluded. The purpose of Francis included all classes of laics, men and women, married and unmarried. His object was to put within the reach of laymen the higher practice of virtue and order of merit associated with the monastic life. It is quite probable that Francis took his idea from the Humiliati, known as the Poor Men of Lombardy, Pauperes Lombardici, or perhaps from the Waldenses, known as the Poor Men of Lyons and also well known in Northern Italy in Francis’ day. The Humiliati had groups of laymen in the twelfth century living according to semi-conventual rules. In 1184 they were condemned by Lucius III. There seem to have been three grades, the lay Humiliati, who in the ordinary avenues of life observed specific ascetic practices; second, those who were living in convents as monks or nuns; and third, canons, who were priests and lived together in common. These three grades were sanctioned by Innocent III. in 1201 and were protected by later popes, as for example Innocent IV. 839
It is possible that Francis’ first plan was for an organization of laymen, and that the idea of an organization of monks developed later in his mind. The division of the Franciscans into three grades was permanently established by the chapter of 1221.0 The earliest rule of the Tertiaries in thirteen chapters sets forth the required style of dress, the asceticisms they were to practise, and the other regulations they were to observe. They were to abstain from all oaths except in exceptional cases, provided for by the pope, to make confession three times a year, have if possible the advice of the diocesan in making their wills, receive to their number no one accused of heresy, and were neither to use deadly weapons nor to carry them. 841 Women, if married, were not to be admitted without the consent of their husbands, and all who had families were enjoined to care for them as a part of the service of God (VI. 6). 842 The Tertiaries still exist in the Roman Catholic Church.
To follow the history of the Franciscans from 1223, the stricter party, who sought to carry out Francis’ practice of strict Apostolic poverty and his views as set forth in his last will, were known as the Observants, or Spirituals, or Zealots. The party, favoring a relaxation of Francis’ Rule and supported by Gregory IX., were often called the Conventuals from occupying convents of their own, especially more pretentious buildings in cities. 843 Now the one party, now the other was in the ascendant. The popes were against the Observants. The inward discord lasted throughout the thirteenth century and far into the fourteenth 844and was suppressed, rather than allayed, for the first time by Leo X., who separated the Franciscans into two orders. In the meantime Observants continued to agitate the scheme of St. Francis, and some of them laid down their lives as martyrs for their principles.
The matter in dispute among the Franciscans was the right of the order as a corporation to hold property in fee simple. The papal decisions in favor of such tenure began with the bull of Gregory IX., 1230. It allowed the order to collect money through "faithful men" appointed for districts, these monies to be applied to the rearing of conventual buildings, to missions, and other objects, and to be held in trust for the givers. This privilege was elaborated by Innocent IV., 1245, and was made to include the possession of books, tools, houses, and lands. Innocent made the clear distinction between tenure in fee simple and tenure for use and granted the right of tenure for use. By this was meant that the order might receive gifts and bequests and hold them indefinitely as for the donors. This was equivalent to perpetual ownership, and might be compared to modern thousand-year leases. Innocent also made the tenure of all property within the order subject to the immediate supervision of the pope.
Determined resistance was offered by the Observants to these papal decrees, and they were persecuted by Elias of Cortona, who vigorously pushed the papal policy. But they were strong and Elias was deposed from the headship of the order by the chapter of 1227. He was reinstated in 1232, but again deposed in 1239. He espoused the cause of Frederick II., and died 1253.
One of the leading men of the wing true to Francis was Brother Leo, the author of what is probably the first biography of Francis, the Speculum Perfectionis, the Mirror of Perfection. When the project was bruited of erecting the great church at Assisi over Francis’ remains and Elias placed a marble vessel on the site to receive contributions, Leo, who regarded the project as a profanation of the memory of the saint, dashed the vessel to pieces. For this act he was banished, amidst tumult, from Assisi. 845
It seemed for a while doubtful which party would gain the upper hand. The Observants were in power under John of Parma, general of the order for ten years, 1247–1257, when he was obliged to resign and retire into strict monastic seclusion. John was followed by Bonaventura, 1257–1274, the great Schoolman, who, in the main, cast his influence on the side of the Conventuals. The Observants became identified with the dreams of Joachim of Flore and applied his prophecy of a new religious order to themselves. These views became a new source of discord and strife lasting for more than a century. Bonaventura pronounced against the adoption of Joachim’s views by condemning Gerardo Borgo’s Introduction to Joachim’s writings. The Life of St. Francis, written by Bonaventura at the mandate of the General Chapter of Narbonne, 1260, and declared the authoritative biography of the saint by the Chapter of 1263, suppressed Francis’ will and other materials favorable to the contention of the Observants, and emphasized the churchly and disciplinary elements of the order. The Observants, from this time on, fought a brave but hopeless battle. They could not successfully wage war against the policy pushed by the papal court.
The report that Gregory X., through the acts of the council of Lyons, 1274, intended to force the order to hold property, stirred opposition into a flame and a number of the Observants were thrown into prison, including Angelo Clareno, an influential author. Nicholas III., in the bull Exiit qui seminat,61279, again made a clear distinction between owning property in fee simple and its tenure for use, and confirmed the latter right. He insisted upon the principle that the pope is the ultimate owner of the property of the order. The bull expressly annulled St. Francis’ prohibition forbidding the order to seek privileges from the pope. The Franciscan general, Bonagratia, and his two successors, accepted the bull, but Peter Olivi, d. 1298, who had acquired wide influence through his writings, violently opposed it. Coelestin V. sought to heal the division by inviting the Observants to join the order of the Coelestin hermits which he had founded, and Angelo Clareno, who had been released from prison, took this course. It was opposed by Olivi and the Observant preacher Ubertino da Casale, 847d. after 1330, who remained through much persecution true to the original principles of Francis.
And so the century in which Francis was born went out with the controversy still going on with unabated warmth. A somewhat new aspect was given to the controversy in the fourteenth century. The dogmatic question was then put into the foreground, whether Christ and his Apostles practised absolute poverty or not. In 1323 John XXII. sought to put a final stop to the dissension by giving papal authority to the statement that they did not practise absolute poverty. Thus the underlying foundation of the strict Franciscan Rule was taken away.
In another respect the Franciscans departed from the mind of their founder. Francis disparaged learning. In 1220 he reprimanded and then cursed Pietro Staccia, a doctor of laws, for establishing a Franciscan school at Bologna. On hearing of a famous doctor, who had entered the order, he is reported to have said, "I am afraid such doctors will be the destruction of my vineyard. True doctors are they who with the meekness of wisdom exhibit good works for the betterment of their neighbors." To Anthony of Padua, Francis wrote—and the genuineness of the letter is not disputed—"I am agreed that you continue reading lectures on theology to the brethren provided that kind of study does not extinguish in them the spirit of humility and prayer." 848 But Francis’ followers departed from his teachings and adapted themselves to the current of that wonderful thirteenth century, established schools in their convents and were well settled, before the century was half gone, at the chief centres of university culture. In 1255 an order called upon Franciscans, going out as missionaries, to study Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and other languages.
The order spread rapidly from Palestine to Ireland. 849 It was introduced into France by Pacifico and Guichard of Beaujolais, a brother-in-law of the French king. The first successful attempt to establish branches in Germany was made, 1221, by Caesar of Spires, who had been converted by Elias of Cortona on his journey to Syria. He was accompanied by twelve priests and thirteen laymen, among them, Thomas of Celano and Jordan of Giano upon whose account we depend for the facts. The company separated at Trent, met again at Augsburg, and then separated once more, carrying their propaganda along the Rhine and to other parts of the country. Houses were established at Mainz, Worms, Spires, and Cologne which in 1522 were united into a custody. The year following four German custodies were added. 850 Caesar of Spires, the flaming apostle of the order in Germany, belonged to the Observant wing, and had to suffer severe persecution and was put to death in prison.
As for England, nine Franciscans, four of them clerics, only one of whom was in priest’s orders, landed at Dover, 1224, and went to Canterbury, and then to London. The account of their early labors on English soil, by Thomas of Eccleston, a contemporary, 851is one of the freshest and most absorbing relations of English affairs in the Middle Ages. At Canterbury they were entertained by the monks of Feskamp, and at London by the Black Friars. At Oxford they received a warm welcome. Grosseteste announced their advent with a sermon from the words, "They that sat in darkness have seen a great light." It was as if the door to a new religious era had been opened. Of their settlement in St. Ebbe’s parish, Oxford, it was said that "there was sown a grain of mustard seed which grew to be greater than all the trees." They were quickly settled at Cambridge, Norwich, Northampton, Yarmouth, and other centres. They were the first popular preachers that England had seen, and the first to embody a practical philanthropy. 852 The condition of English villages and towns at that day was very wretched. Skin diseases were fearfully prevalent, including leprosy. Destructive epidemics spread with great rapidity. Sanitary precautions were unknown. Stagnant pools and piles of refuse abounded. 853
Partly from necessity and partly from pure choice these ardent religionists made choice of quarters in the poorest and most neglected parts of the towns. In Norwich they settled in a swamp through which the city sewerage passed. At Newgate, now a part of London, they betook themselves to Stinking Lane. At Cambridge they occupied the decayed gaol.
No wonder that such zeal received recognition. The people soon learned to respect the new apostles. Adam Marsh joined them, and he and Grosseteste, the most influential English ecclesiastic of his day, lectured in the Franciscan school at Oxford. The burgesses of London and other towns gave them lands, as did also the king, at Shrewsbury. In 1256 the number of English friars had increased to 1242, settled in forty-nine different localities.