FIOR (Franciscan Institute Outreach - Malta)

4. Sources: life of St. Francis (1)

List of the Main sources

4.1. The Mediaeval Sources for the Life of St. Francis of Assisi are a group of historical documents dating from 1227 to the end of the 14th century, which form the basis for a systematic study of the life of St. Francis and the origins of the Franciscan movement. These biographies were compiled according to the canons of Christian hagiographical sources, already present from the time of the Church Fathers. They embrace various literary genres. The most common form is the "legenda" or legend, which in Latin means "a narrative designed to be read in public for the edification of the listeners". Some of these legends were written in order to be used during liturgical celebrations for the feast day of St. Francis. Others have the intention of being authentic memories of the first friars who lived with Francis, or of other friars who came into contact with them during subsequent generations. We shall start by offering a list of the most important Franciscan Sources, and then pass on to present some of them, which are accessible in the English Omnibus of Sources for the Life of St. Francis (see bibliographical indications).

Face detail of St. Francis by Cimabue

4.2. The principal Franciscan Sources

  1. Friar Elias,
    Epistola Encyclica de Transitu Sancti Francisci, 1226.
    (Encyclical Letter regarding the Death of St. Francis).
  2. Gregory IX,
    Bulla "Mira circa nos" for the canonisation of St. Francis, 19 July 1228.
  3. Friar Thomas of Celano,
    Vita Prima Sancti Francisci, 1228 (= 1 Cel).
    (First Life of St. Francis).
    Legenda ad usum chori, 1230.
    (Legend for use in the divine office).
    Vita Secunda Sancti Francisci, 1246-1247 (= 2 Cel).
    (Second Life of St. Francis).
    Tractatus de Miraculis Sancti Francisci, 1252-1253 (= 3 Cel).
    (Treatise on the Miracles of Blessed Francis).
  4. Friar Julian of Speyer,
    Vita Sancti Francisci, 1232-1239.
    (Life of St. Francis).
    Officium rhythmicum Sancti Francisci, 1231-1232.
    (Rhythmic office of St. Francis).
  5. Henry d'Avranches,
    Legenda versificata Sancti Francisci, 1232-1234.
    (Legend of St. Francis written in verse).
  6. Giovanni da Celano,
    Legenda "Quasi stella matutina", 1230-1237.
    Legend "Like the morning star" (this document is lost).
  7. Friars Leo, Rufino and Angelo, companions of St. Francis,
    Letter written from Greccio (11 August 1246).
  8. St. Bonaventure from Bagnoregio,
    Legenda Maior Sancti Francisci, 1260-1263 (= LegMaj).
    (Major Life of St. Francis).
    Legenda Minor Sancti Francisci, 1260-1263 (= LegMin).
    (Minor Life of St. Francis, written for the divine office of St. Francis).
  9. Bernard of Besse, secretary to St. Bonaventure,
    Liber de laudibus Beati Francisci, 1279.
    (Book about the praises of Blessed Francis).
  10. Friar Jacobus de Voragine, from the Order of Preachers (Dominicans),
    De vita Sancti Francisci in Legenda Aurea, 1265-1280.
    (The Life of St. Francis. The Golden Legend).
  11. Bavarus (Anonymous Benedictine monk),
    Vita Sancti Francisci, or Legenda Monacensis, 1265-1282.
    (The Monastic Legend).
  12. Sacrum commercium beati Francisci cum domina Paupertate, 1260-1270.
    (The mystical espousals of Blessed Francis with Lady Poverty).
  13. Legenda trium sociorum, 1246 - first years of the 14th century (= L3S).
    (Legend of the three companions).
  14. Legenda Sancti Francisci, or Anonimo Perugino, after 1260 (= AnonPer).
    (Anonymous of Perugia).
  15. Legenda antiqua Sancti Francisci, or Legenda Perusina,
    or Compilatio Assisiensis, 1266-1318 (= LegPer).
    (Legend of Perugia from the Ms 1046 Biblioteca Comunale of Perugia, or Compilation of Assisi).
  16. Speculum Perfectionis, 1318 (= SpecPerf).
    (The Mirror of Perfection).
  17. Ugolino da Montegiorgio,
    Actus Beati Francisci et sociorum eius, 1327 - 1342 (= Actus).
    (The Acts of Blessed Francis and his companions).
  18. Anonymous Italian version of the Actus,
    Fioretti di San Francesco, end of the 14th century (= Fior).
    (The Little Flowers of St. Francis).
  19. Friar Jacopone da Todi, 1230/1235 - 25 December 1306.
    Lauda O Francesco povero.
  20. Friar Ubertino da Casale (c. 1259 - 1325).
    Arbor vitae crucifixae Jesu, written on La Verna in 1305.
  21. Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321).
    Divina Commedia, Canto XI del Paradiso.
  22. Friar Angelo Clareno (c. 1260 - 1337).
    Chronicon seu Historia septem tribulationum Ordinis Minorum.
    (History of the seven tribulations of the Order of Minors).
  23. Bartolomeo da Pisa,
    Liber de conformitate vitae beati Francisci ad vitam Iesu, 1385 - 1399.
    (The Conformity of the life of Blessed Francis with the life of Jesus).

    Chronicles from Franciscan or extra-Franciscan Sources:

  24. Jacques de Vitry,
    Letter written from Genoa (October 1216).
    Letter written from Damietta (1220).
    Historia occidentalis, De Ordine et praedicatione Fratrum Minorum (1221).
  25. Friar Thomas of Eccleston,
    De Adventu Fratrum Minorum in Angliam, 1258 - 1259.
    (Chronicle about the arrival of the Friars Minor in England).
  26. Friar Jordan of Giano,
    Chronicle (particularly the Franciscan mission in Germany), 1262.
  27. Friar Salimbene de Adam from Parma,
    Chronicle, 1282 - 1287.
  28. Arnold from Sarrant,
    Chronica XXIV generalium Ordinis Fratrum Minorum, 1369 - 1374.
    (Chronicle of the 24 Generals of the Order of Friars Minor).

    © copyright FIOR-Malta
    Text by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm


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