Letter of Pope Honorius III to Cardinal Hugolino - 71 

Letter of Pope Honorius III to Cardinal Hugolino (1219)

Introduction

The following document, the first among those papal documents con- cerned with the followers of Saint Francis, is the response of Pope Honorius III to a letter written by Cardinal Hugolino dei Conti di Segni who had in 1217 become Papal Legate for Lombardy and Tuscany, and ap- parently for the Umbrian and Spoleto Valleys.a

Born in 1170, Hugolino was related to Pope Innocent III whose service he entered after studies in Paris and Bologna. There is evidence that his spiritual formation was influenced by the Cistercians and resulted in his great interest in religious movements of the time. When we examine the letters or documents written by Hugolino in 1216 and 1217, the possibility of his association with Jacques de Vitry remains strong. This could explain his interest in the newly developing feminine religious foundations and, hence, the Poor Ladies whose monasteries were beginning to appear throughout his territories.b

The following letter is important in the papal legislation in that these new monasteries were exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishops and placed directly under that of the pope. In effect, this meant that Hugolino, as the plenipotentiary of Innocent III, became responsible for these convents.


Honorius, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, sends greetings and the Apostolic blessing to our brother,

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Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 71

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