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 A Mirror of the Perfection (1318) - 211 

editorial liberties. Sometimes these introduce and interpret sections of the narrative, add additional information, emphasize certain details, and add rhetorical embellishment, but many of the editorial additions are directed toward literal and strict interpretation of the Rule. Contrary to the interpretation of Pope Nicholas III in Exiit Qui Seminat (1279), for example, the brothers who pursue knowledge and wisdom are described as guilty of idleness and offending the Rule.

Is it possible to determine the author of the Sabatier Mirror? The Frenchman tenaciously advocated that it was Leo, as the title of his initial publication indicates: Speculum perfectionis seu S. Francisci Assisiensis legenda antiquitissima, auctore frate Leone [The Mirror of Perfection or The Most Ancient Legend of Saint Francis of Assisi, by the author, Brother Leo]. Unfortunately Sabatier downplayed the incipit found in all the manuscripts:

This work has been compiled in the form of a legend based on what the companions of blessed Francis had formerly written or caused to be written.19

As Théophile Desbonnets observes: "This remark embarrassed Paul Sabatier very much, for it ruined a great deal of his thesis and contradicted the date 1227 which he attributed to the Speculum."20 Thus Sabatier's text offers yet another compilation. In this instance, however, the addition of The Words of Brother Conrad of Offida clearly suggest that the original editor was a Spiritual, probably from the Italian Province of the Marches, who was intent on righting the wrongs brought about by erroneous interpretations of the Rule.

A casual reading of the one hundred and twenty-four chapters, however, reveals a change in emphasis. Once again the stories are arranged differently, this time in twelve chapters. They are introduced by a re-telling of the confrontation of the ministers with Elias as their spokesman and Francis. The divine character and authority of the Rule is dramatically established by the voice of Christ that is now heard telling the troubled saint: "Francis, nothing of yours is in the Rule: whatever is there is mine. And I want the Rule observed in this way: to the letter, to the letter, to the letter, and without gloss, without gloss, without gloss." The contentious ministers, rebuked by Francis, are described as confused and now terrified. The text then weaves the now familiar stories in twelve different panels devoted initially to the fundamental virtues of the Rule: poverty, charity, humility and obedience. With the fourth chapter, however, the focus shifts. Francis, "the perfect zealot of the observance of the holy Gospel," is portrayed as burning "with great zeal for the common observance of the Rule" and, in the following chapter, for the perfection of his brothers. With the sixth chapter, the stories continue to exemplify Francis's virtues of love, compassion, prayer, joy, resistance to temptation, and prophecy, and eventually focus on God's unique care for him especially at the time of his death. In light of the pivotal fifth and sixth chapters, however, the frequently added superlatives, editorial comments, and interpolations




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 211

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