Celano’s First Life of St. Francis

The earliest written account of Francis and the Leper occurs in Thomas of Celano’s The First Life (1C) written c.1229. The work was commissioned by Pope Gregory IX who asked Celano to write a vita of the newly canonized saint. Francis died in 1226, was declared a saint in rapid order and by April 1228, Gregory called for a burial church to be built for Francis. The commission to Celano was complementary to the architectural celebration. The vita was written in short order and declared official by Gregory in February 1229. Continue reading

The stories spread

francis-in-stained-glassOver the last several weeks we have been considering what awaited the men who came to join Francis of Assisi and this growing fraternity of believers seeking to follow Christ more fully in the world. We had mentioned there were no rules, regulations, or even a formation program; there was only Francis and the other brothers. But what drew the men to want to “come and see?” Undoubtedly, as today, a complex of reasons, but key among those reasons was Francis of Assisi’s reputation for holiness and miracles.

Francis’ reputation for holiness began at home among the brothers, not necessarily in the public square. The more “public” Francis was still a few years down the road when the reluctant saint began to be called more often to speak and appear and to increasingly gain public exposure. In the beginning, it was his brothers who experienced the holiness of Francis. First and foremost, Francis was a compassionate brother – especially for those who were tempted, spiritually troubled, or depressed. The medieval age was a time when these things were attributed to diabolical powers. Francis had a special gift for consoling those who suffered from such illnesses. Perhaps it stemmed, not only from the grace of God, but also arising out of Francis’ own experience of these same aliments.

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St. Francis: A Reputation for Holiness and Miracles

Over the last several weeks we have been considering what awaited the men who came to join Francis of Assisi and this growing fraternity of believers seeking to follow Christ more fully in the world. We had mentioned there were no rules, regulations, or even a formation program; there was only Francis and the other brothers. But what drew the men to want to “come and see?” Undoubtedly, as today, a complex of reasons, but key among those reasons was Francis of Assisi’s reputation for holiness and miracles. Continue reading