The Legend of the Three Companions - 61 

Introduction

In 1244 the brothers buried Haymo of Faversham, the first English General Minister and the first academician, then gathered in Genoa on October 4, and elected Cresentius of Iesi his successor. Thomas of Eccleston provides a description of the character of the man chosen to guide the Order during this tumultuous period:

Brother Haymo was succeeded by Brother Crescentius, a famous physician and the provincial minister of Verona,1 whose zeal was kindled by charity, informed by learning, and strengthened by perseverance.2

According to Thomas, the choice of Crescentius was not without some hesitation or reluctance. As Provincial Minister of the Lesser Brothers in the Province of Le Marche, his reputation among some of his brothers was not as positive as that of Thomas. "For in his own province," he writes,

there were brothers so opposed to him that on the very night before the general chapter in which he was elected, after he had lodged a complaint against them before the zealous brothers of the order concerning the rebellion of his brothers,3 one of the brothers [at the chapter] saw him in a vision, with his head shaved and a beard flowing down to his cord, and heard a voice coming from heaven upon him, saying: "This is Mordechai."4 Now, when Brother Ralph of Rheims heard of this vision, he immediately said: "Assuredly, he will be elected general today."

Beyond his election, there is little recorded about the Chapter that elected him, only an initiative of Crescentius himself. According to the Chronicle of the Twenty-Four Generals: "In that chapter the same General directed all the brothers to send him in writing whatever they could truly recall about the life, miracles, and prodigies of blessed Francis."5 The author does not provide any reasons for this decision, nor can any be found in any other early document. Engelbert Grau suggests that the considerations must have revolved around the fact that many of the sayings, episodes, and events of the saint had been handed down orally, that is, they were preserved neither in The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano nor in that of Julian of Speyer.6 But Crescentius may simply have recognized the fact that Francis's followers were dying at the

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Fontes Franciscani, p.


Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 61

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