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 The Legend of the Three Companions - 64 

which they shorten, refine, or clarify, and, at the same time, take passages from The Anonymous of Perugia which, for the most part, they refine but do not change. In the first instance, the "companions" seem intent on clarifying the record set down by Thomas of Celano, such as information concerning Francis's youth and conversion. This material Thomas of Celano later incorporates into his second portrait of the saint. In the second instance, the authors tweak the data of the The Anonymous of Perugia either to clarify or to examine it from a different perspective.22

The Legend of the Three Companions provides insights into Francis, his youth, struggles with his father, and the emerging consciousness of his call that Thomas of Celano and the author of The Anonymous of Perugia do not have. In addition to his behavior while in a Peruguian prison (L3C 4), The Legend of the Three Companionstells of Francis's central place among his friends, both as their prodigal host and as their fun-loving leader (L3C 7). The scene before the Crucifix of San Damiano (L3C 13), as well as Pietro di Bernardone's appeal to the civil authorities of Assisi (L3C 19) are introduced, adding to the drama unfolding between son and father. And Francis's enigmatic "precursor" is brought into the story, who anticipated the saint by walking through Assisi's streets crying "Pax et bonum!" (L3C 26) When this new information is examined together with the nuances added to both The Life of Saint Francis and The Anonymous of Perugia, the role of those intimately involved in Francis's life, possibly from Assisi itself, becomes clear.

It may well be that the rubric attributing this text to "three companions of blessed Francis" and the letter introducing it were added to bolster its authority. Since the earlier remembrances of John of Perugia, as found in The Anonymous of Perugia, remain more or less intact, singling him out as a companion of Giles and associated with Bernard is significant. John's contributions add to the historical veracity of the legend and root it firmly in the tradition of Francis's companions. From this perspective, The Legend of The Three Companions emerges as a companion piece of The Anonymous of Perugia, both aiming at retelling the story of the evolution of the primitive fraternity. Nevertheless, the two texts examine the events from different perspectives: The Anonymous of Perugia embraces Francis and his first companions collectively, while The Legend of the Three Companions focuses on Francis himself, the founder of the fraternity.

Notes

  1. He was a native of Iesi in the Marches of Ancona and elected at a general chapter in Genoa, May 22, 1244. Crescentius had been provincial minister of the Marches; perhaps Verona is a copyist’s error for Ancona.
  2. Thomas of Eccleston, ChrTE 33.
  3. As minister of the Marches, Crecentius had difficulties with "zealous" friars who did not want to accommodate themselves to current directions in the Order and therefore refused to obey his commands. He apparently lodged a complaint about this to those friars of the general chapter who shared their views.
  4. A reference to the guardian of the Old Testament Esther.
  5. Cf. Chronica XXIV Generalium, AF III, 262.
  6. Cf. Engelbert Grau, "Thomas of Celano: Life and Work," GR 8 (1994): 187.

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Fontes Franciscani, p.


Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 64

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