A Collection of Sayings of the Companions of Blessed Francis - 111 

with Brother Leo, Francis's close companion and one of nos qui cum eo fuimus [we who were with him], made him especially popular. So strong is the presence of Leo throughout these thirteen paragraphs that, as Moorman observes, they could be called "Words of Brother Leo." The phrase "Brother Conrad heard from Brother Leo . . ." or variations on it appears six times;17 twice Leo himself is cited as a direct source.18

There is a strident, harsh, and disheartening tone to these passages. Francis is portrayed as inducing fear, proclaiming tribulation, always sad and living with great sorrow, and frequently confrontational. The Conrad/Leo description of the Rule extends the Moses imagery suggested by Bonaventure so that Francis enters the cave of Fonte Colombo to speak with God, "like Moses in the tent or on Mount Sinai, face to face." As the number of opponents to Francis's Gospel vision grows, so do his prophecies concerning the tribulations that would engulf the Order. Francis becomes quite clearly the "Prophet," gloomy, pessimistic, and thunderous.

The Words of Brother Conrad come in a manuscript, Codex 1/25, of the friary library of Saint Isidore's in Rome. It is dated between 1318 and 1350. As Nimmo notes: "Two appended notes of the fifteenth century connect it with Franciscan friaries at Perugia and Cibotolo in the Order's Province of Umbria, and at Città della Pieve in that of Tuscany."19 Thus, Conrad's collection seems to have been circulated within a short period of time through those Italian Provinces, Rome, Umbria, and Tuscany. It can also be found in the Barcelona Compilation written in the second half of the fourteenth century.20 There is no evidence of when these texts were originally written down. If they come directly from Leo by way of Conrad of Offida, they reveal an apocalyptic and acrimonious tone that is more characteristic of the early fourteenth century. They are certainly more harsh than the third collection of this packet, the Words of Saint Francis, that comes from Leo himself.

The Words of Saint Francis

The earliest manuscript of this collection comes, once again, from the friary library of Saint Isidore's in Rome, and contains this heading:

Words of Saint Francis. A companion of Blessed Francis, Br. Leo, who was a man of true simplicity and holiness, wrote these words that state and reveal the intention and sense of his perfect Rule sincerely and faithfully.21

Because the seven statements reveal what Leo maintained was the "intention and sense" of the Rule, they repeatedly appear in the writing of the Spirituals. Six of them appear in the Assisi Compilation;22 one appears in the Lemmens edition of The Mirror of Perfection;23 and they are all scattered throughout that of Sabatier.24 Ubertino da Casale quotes them in the fifth chapter of his Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus, as does Angelo Clareno in his Exposition on the Rule.25

 Previous

Next 

 

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 111

Hardcopies Available for Purchase