Francis and the Leper: the Order evolves

As noted last week the accounts of Francis and the leper were beginning to “evolve” from the first story that appeared in Thomas of Celano’s first book. Some 20 years later, there are additions being made to the story that seem to be less about Francis per se, and more about Francis’ legacy that should be central to the identity of the Order. Thomas of Celano’s second book was written at the behest of the then Minister General, Crescentius. This leader inherited the results of the leadership of the two previous ministers: Elias of Cortona and Haymo of Haversham. This week we will consider Elias.

Born in Bevilia near Assisi, Elias appears to have been one of the earliest companions of Francis. He seems to have joined the growing fraternity in 1211 within two years of it’s beginning. From the first he was given responsibility for leadership, first in Tuscany, then later (1217) to lead a band of missionaries to the Near East. In 1219  he became the first provincial of the then extensive province of Syria. Continue reading