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 An Umbrian Choir Legend - 472 

events of LaVerna and a description of the wounds, it provided details bolstering the belief of those brothers in Umbria who may have been wavering.

Another striking characteristic of An Umbrian Choir Legend is its positive regard of Elias. Francis's vicar from 1221 to 1227, and again from 1232 to 1239, Elias was always controversial. 6

His excommunication in 1239 because of his relationship with Frederick II placed him in no better light. An Umbrian Choir Legend, however, overlooks these negative aspects. Not only is he introduced as the one for whom Francis had "a special love," Elias touches the saint's wounds, exchanges a tunic with him, and cheers and consoles him. (LChL 2) While the earlier descriptions of Francis's final blessing vacillate between identifying Elias, Bernard or an unknown brother symbolizing each and every brother, this text highlights Francis's praise of his controversial vicar: "You took my burdens on your shoulders and have courageously met the needs of the brothers." Elias's death on April 23, 1253, may well have prompted the anonymous author of this work to correct Thomas of Celano's silence in The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul and The Treatise on the Miracles of Saint Francis.

An Umbrian Choir Legend adds little to knowledge of Francis of Assisi. It does, however, provide insights into the milieu preceding the Chapter of Narbonne in 1260 in which the brothers asked the newly elected Bonaventure of Bagnoregio to compile a new legend in honor of the saint and the Chapter of Paris in 1266 in which the brothers mandated the deletion of all legends other than one of the two legends submitted by him.7

Notes

  1. The translation of this anonymous work is based on the text found in the AF X, 543-554. It is part of seven documents entitled "Some Minor Legends of St. Francis of Assisi Based on the Lives of Thomas of Celano:" a liturgical legend of St. Francis of a "Minorite" breviary in the Vatican, 531-532; an ancient liturgical legend of the Order of Preachers, 533-535; a shorter version of the previous piece, 535-536; a very brief liturgical legend taken from this last piece, 537; a choir legend of Chartres, 538-540; a work of Bartholomew of Trent, O.P., 540-543; and this piece.
  2. See André Vauchez, "The Stigmata of St. Francis and Their Medieval Detractors," GR 13 (1999): 61-89.
  3. Michael Bihl, "De quodam elencho Assisiano testum oculatorum S. Francisci stigmatum," AFH XIX (1926): 931-936.
  4. ChrTE, 13.
  5. Gregory IX wrote three denunciations: Confessor Domini, April 5, 1237, to the faithful of Germany; Usque ad terminos, April 2, 1237, to the Cistercian Robert of England, the Bishop of Olomouc, Bohemia; and Non minus dolentes, April 2, 1237, to the Dominican Everhardus (Euchard/ Ebehard). Alexander IV wrote three papal documents on the same theme: Benigna operatio, October 29, 1255, to all bishops, cf. infra, 779-781 ; Grande et singulare, July 10, 1256, also to all bishops; and Quia longum, July 28, 1259, to the bishops of Castille and Leon.
  6. Cf. Giulia Barone, "Brother Elias Revisited," GR 13 (1999): 1-18.
  7. Cf. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Introduction, infra, 503.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 472

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