The Assisi Compilation - 113 

Introduction

The second text resulting from the request of Cresentius, The Assisi Compilation, presents anecdotes about Francis that could only have come from day-to-day association with him. "We who were with him" offer stories of his practice of virtue, his dealings with the brothers, and his struggles with those who found his Gospel vision difficult to understand. In scattered recollections that lack any plan or structure, The Assisi Compilation provides details of incidents that took place not in the piazzas or papal households, but in the remote and hidden places of the brothers, and offers insights into the daily life of the primitive fraternity. Very quickly the reader of these reminiscences becomes aware that they flow from personal and intimate experiences with the saint.

Unlike the manuscript tradition of The Legend of the Three Companions, that of The Assisi Compilation is quite simple. The text is found in a handsome fourteenth century binding, Manuscript 1046 of the Biblioteca Comunale Augusta in Perugia. It appears to have been written by different scribes, one of whom numbered all the sections in a distinctive way indicating that they were bound up shortly after they were written.1 The very first folio describes the contents of the entire codex and indicates the presence of the Legenda major et antiqua sancti Francisci [A Major and An Ancient Legend of Saint Francis]. The manuscript was brought to modern attention in 1922 when Ferdinand Delorme published an edition of the text and, two years later, an in-depth study. Because the parchment includes a papal decree of March 23, 1310, by Pope Clement V,2 Delorme maintained that the manuscript had to have been written after that date. Most scholars accept the date of 1311, the year when Ubertino da Casale mentions his awareness of its existence.3 Unfortunately, the manuscript Delorme discovered was missing sections XI, XII, and XV, and so he was left with many questions. While sections XI and XII lacked the beginning and end of Bonaventure's Legenda Major [Major Legend] section XV more seriously lacked the incipit or introductory statement to the other work. Taking his cue from the first folio of Codex 1046, Delorme entitled the work Legenda antiqua Sancti Francisci.4

A primary difficulty with this text, however, had always been its title. Since Delorme's initial edition, the manuscript was unfortunately published in different forms and with different titles: Legenda Antiqua [Ancient Legend], I Fiori dei Tre Compagni [The Flowers of the Three Companions],5 Scripta Leonis, Rufini et Angeli Sociorum S. Francisci [The Writings of Leo, Rufino and Angelo, Companions of St. Francis],6 Legenda Perugina [The Legend of Perugia]7 and Compilatio Assisiensis [The Assisi Compilation].8 These titles have certainly added to the controversial nature of the text and influenced its interpretation.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 113

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