A Life of Saint Francis by an Anonymous Monk of a German Monastery - 837 

A Life of Saint Francis by an Anonymous Monk of a German Monastery
(c. 1275)

An anonymous monk of the Benedictine monastery of Oberaltaich, Germany, composed a summary or compilation of the life of Saint Francis. While his portrait is based fundamentally on the writings of Thomas of Celano, it is nuanced by the liturgical texts of Julian of Speyer and the Major Legend of Saint Bonaventure. The author's admiration for Francis is obvious. His verbal tapestry is well crafted: the strands of Thomas's Life and Remembrance are carefully stitched to reveal a portrait that is straight-forward, devoid of the monastic allusions or images one might expect. Yet it is difficult to overlook the author's arrangement of the text and his nuances in this presentation of yet another portrait of Saint Francis.

The oldest manuscript of this text is that of the Manuscript 9533 of the State Library of München, Germany. Its date is sometime in the second half of the thirteenth century. The Life of Saint Francis is only part of this manuscript. The other pieces contain The Lives of the Fathers of Egypt, John Cassian's Insti- tutes, and lives of some monastic saints. When seen from this perspective, the admiration of the anonymous monk casts new light on the document, enabling the reader to appreciate Francis in light of monastic spirituality.

 


Prologuea

To have knowledge of the saints, to know their way of living and the wonderful things which the Lord worked through them, is useful for many reasons, namely, for the teaching of virtue, for their greater veneration and that their prayers be more devoutly invoked. I have, for this reason, striven here to draw out a summary from a life of the most holy Father Francis, for it is burdensome for busy people to read or re-copy in its entirety. I do this so that those who for the preceding reasons desire to have some knowledge, may briefly find what they require in this compilation, although many of his words and deeds, which are most useful for edification, have been omitted here in order to avoid undue length. Those who wish can find these words and deeds more fully in his complete legend.

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 837

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