Papal Documents - The Prophet - 740 

2 Such is the meek and willing religion of the Lesser Brothers, deeply rooted in poverty and humility by that loving confessor of Christ, Francis. Himself sprouting up from that authentic seed [of God's Word], by means of his Rule he spread that shoot to the sons he begot for himself and God by his ministry of Gospel observance. These sons, in the words of Saint James, have welcomed in meekness the eternal Word, the Son of God, engrafted on humankind in the garden of the Virgin's womb and endued with the power to save souls. Such truly are those who profess that holy Rule, a rule founded on the teaching of the Gospel, confirmed by the example of Christ, and approved by the words and actions of His apostles, the founders of the Church Militant.a

This then is religion pure and undefiled before God the Father. Coming down from the Father of lights, it was passed on by His Son to the apostles in word and example, and finally, through the work of the Holy Spirit, it inspired blessed Francis and his followers.b It bears then, so to speak, the witness of the whole blessed Trinity. To cite Saint Paul, it is something about which no one ought henceforth to make trouble, since Christ has sealed it with the brand marks of His passion, desiring to distinguish its author in a visible way with the signs of His own suffering.

3 Yet, even so the guile of the ancient Enemy has not relented against the Lesser Brothers and their Rule. On the contrary, in his effort to sow weeds amidst the good seed and thus overcome it, he has here and there roused antagonists against them. Stirred up by jealousy, ill will, and misguided righteousness, these men, like dogs, have been snapping at the brothers and barking at their Rule as something illicit, impossible to observe, and dangerous. They overlook the fact that, as mentioned above, the said holy Rule is based on salutary precepts and counsels; that it has the support of apostolic practice, the endorsement of several Roman pontiffs, and even the formal approval of the Apostolic See. That it enjoys confirmation in so many divine testimonies has become exceedingly credible indeed in so many holy men who have spent and completed their days while observing this Rule, some of whom have been enrolled in the canon of the saints by the said Apostolic See on account of their lives and miracles. Yes, as recently as our own day the Rule was commended by our predecessor Pope Gregory X of pious memory because of the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 740