The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions (1328-1337) - 430 

Marches. One has only to read this poetic description: "The Province of the Marches of Ancona was like a beautiful starry sky, with outstanding stars, that is, with holy Lesser Brothers who high and low before God and neighbor shone with radiant virtues, and (Sir 45:1) whose memory is truly held in divine blessing."6 Granted many of the stories told in The Deeds take place in the Province of Umbria, it does not receive the praise and adulation devoted to the Province of the Marches. Within that Province, the Custody of Ancona garners special attention. Offida, Fermo, Mogliano, Massa Fermana, Penna S. Giovanni, Falerone, and Brunforte: all of these towns—all of which are found in what was then the Lesser Brothers' Custody of Ancona—are mentioned in the text. Finally, since the friary of Soffiano figures strongly in a number of incidents and had ties with that of San Liberato inhabited by the followers of Angelo Clareno, Soffiano is possibly the precise locale in which the author of The Deeds gathered and transcribed his materials.

Twice The Deeds of Blessed Francis and His Companions makes a reference to its author, Ugolino of Monte Santa Maria.7 On another occasion, however, Ugolino is mentioned as the witness of an episode described by another,8 and, on twelve occasions direct or indirect allusions leave the question of authorship in question.9 Scholars have generally assumed that more than one person had a hand in the composition of The Deeds, although that of Ugolino Boniscambi of Monte Santa Maria is recognized as primary.

Little is known about Ugolino Boniscambi. The date of his birth in Monte Santa Maria—now known as Montegiorgio—a small town in the Province of the Marches, is unknown.10 Since he mentions hearing John of LaVerna, who died in 1274, Ubertino must have entered the Order before that time. A document in the archives of Amandola places Ugolino in Gabbiano in 1319 as an official witness to a peace treaty between the towns of Amandola and Massa Fermana;11 another document of 1331 describes his presence in Naples before the general minister, Girard Oddone or Ot, accusing the former provincial minister of Penne, Andrea of Gagliano, of the heresy of "Michaelism," the belief that Christ and the apostles possessed no earthly goods.12 In 1342 Ugolino was chosen as fiduciary of the will of a priest, Conrad of Falerone. Like the day of his birth, that of his death is unknown.

An examination of the text indicates that Ugolino clearly had access to Bonaventure's Major Legend, possibly some version of the scrolls of the companions, and the writings of Angelo Clareno. It also reveals his talent for remembering and narrating stories, especially those originating in his own Province of the Marches. These two characteristics, however, present problems in dealing with the historicity of the sixty-eight chapters of Ugolino's Deeds. Although thirty-one chapters tell stories found in earlier texts and, therefore, are historically reliable, ten others present details in incidents that are otherwise historically reliable. These details are changed to be more faithful to Sacred Scripture, as in the case of Francis's prophetic vision of the Order's future;13 to sustain a thesis, as in the case of Bernard's perfect obedience;14 to give greater prominence to some deed;15 to demonstrate Francis's affection for creatures;16 or, quite simply, to reinforce details.17 It is easy




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 430

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