A Mirror of the Perfection (The Lemmons Edition, 1901) - 239 

The holy father said this because he did not want the brothers for any reason to go beyond the norm of poverty either in houses or churches, in gardens or in other things they used. And he did not want them to possess the right of ownership to these places, but always to stay in them as pilgrims and strangers. 1 Pt 2:11 For this reason, he did not want the brothers to have to be assigned to places in large groups, because it seemed to him that it was difficult for poverty to be preserved. From the beginning of his conversion until the end, at his death, this was his will: that holy poverty be observed to its fullest. Afterwards they should go to the bishop of that city and say to him: "Lord, for the love of the Lord God and the salvation of his soul, such-and-such a person wants to give us enough land so that we can build a place there. Therefore, we have recourse to you first, because you are the father and lord of the souls of the entire flock entrusted to you, as well as our souls and those of the other brothers who will stay in this place. Therefore, with the blessing of the Lord God and yours, we would like to build on it."

The saint would say this, because he always wanted the brothers to honor and revere prelates: "For this reason let them be called Lesser Brothers because, in name as well as example and deed, they should be humbler than all others of this world." And he used to say: "From the beginning of my conversion, when I separated myself from the world and father in the flesh, the Lord put His word in the mouth of the bishop of Assisi so he could counsel me well in the service of Christ and comfort me. Therefore, as well as the greater excellence that I consider in prelates and in clerics, not only in bishops, but in poor priests as well, I want to love them, revere them and regard them as my lords.

"After receiving the bishop's blessing, let them go and have a big ditch dug around the land which they received for building the place, and as a sign of holy poverty and humility; let them place a hedge there, instead of a wall. Afterwards they may have poor little houses built, of mud and wood, and some little cells where the brothers can sometimes pray and where, for their own greater decency and also to avoid idle words, they can work.

"They may also have small churches made: however, the brothers must not have large churches made, in order to preach to the people there or for any other reason, for it is greater humility and better example when the brothers go to other churches to preach, so that they may observe holy poverty, and their humility and decency.

"And if prelates and clerics, religious or secular, should sometimes visit their places, their poor house, little cells, and churches in that place will preach to them and edify them."




Speculum Perfectionis (minus), Fontes Franciscani, p. 1797-1799

5Hoc autem dicebat sanctus pater, quia nulla occasione volebat, ut fratres in domibus vel ecclesiis, in hortis vel aliis rebus, quibus utebantur, modum excederent paupertatis, 6et propterea, volebat, ut fratres non in multa quantitate per loca collocari deberent, quia sibi difficile videbatur in multa quantitate paupertatem conservari. 7Et hec fuit voluntas eius ab initio sue conversionis et ultima in morte eius, ut sancta paupertas penitus observaretur.

8 « Postea debent ire ad episcopum civitatis et dicere ei: "Domine, talis homo amore Domini Dei et salutis anime sue vult nobis dare tantam terram, ut possimus ibi locum edificare; 9unde ad vos recurrimus primo, maxime, quia estis pater et dominus animarum totius gregis vobis commissi et nostrarum et aliorum fratrum, qui permanserint in loco isto. 10Volumus ergo cum benedictione Domini Dei et vestra edificare in ea" ».

11Hoc autem dicebat sanctus, quoniam semper volebat, quod fratres honorarent et venerarentur prelatos: « Nam ideo Fratres Minores vocantur, quia sicut nomine, sic exemplo et opere ceteris aliis omnibus huius seculi debent esse humiliores ». 12Et dicebat: « Quia ab initio mee conversionis, cum a seculo et a patre carnali me separavi, posuit Dominus in ore episcopi Assisii verbum a suum, ut michi bene consuleret in servitio Christi et me confortaret. 13Ideo propter hoc et multam excellentiam, que in prelatis considero et clericis, non tantum episcopos sed pauperculos sacerdotes volo diligere et venerari et tenere eos pro dominis meis.

14Deinde accepta benedictione a domino episcopo vadant et faciant micti magnam carbonariam in circuitu terre quam pro loci edificatione acceperunt, et ponant ibi bonam sepem pro muro in signum sancte paupertatis et humilitatis. 15Postea faciant fieri domos pauperculas ex luto et lignis constructas et aliquas cellulas, ut fratres aliquando possint orare et pro maiori honestate ipsorum et etiam cautela verborum otiosorum laborare valeant.

16Ecclesias etiam parvas fieri faciant; non enim debent fratres facere fieri magnas ecclesias occasione ibi populo predicandi nec alia occasione, 17quoniam maior humilitas erit et melius exemplum, cum fratres vadant ad alias ecclesias ad predicandum ut observent sanctam paupertatem et ipsorum humilitatem et honestatem.

18 « Et si aliquando aliqui prelati et clerici religiosi seu seculares, ad loca ipsorum diverterint, domus paupercule et cellule et ecelesie ipsorum et honestates etiam sine prefficatione fratrum existentium in loco illo illis predicabunt et inde edificabuntur ».

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 239