The Kinship of Saint Francis - 673 

Introduction

The Kinship of Saint Francis, the final work of this third volume, is generally unknown. Dedicated to identifying nine "conformities" between the lives of Saint Francis and Christ, it is the work that paved the way for the massive The Conformity of the Life of the Blessed Francis to the Life of the Lord Jesus by Bartholomew of Pisa.1Thus The Kinship marks the end of one period in the history of Franciscan hagiography and introduces another.

The existence of only two known manuscripts of The Kinship suggests that neglect has continually plagued it. The oldest, Codex 558 of the library of the Sacro Convento in Assisi, comes from the fifteenth century;2 the other, the Latin Manuscript 12707 of the Bibliotheque National of Paris, bears the date August 18, 1508.3 While the Assisi manuscript is badly mutilated, presents many gaps, and is, at times, difficult to read, its Parisian counterpart is better preserved, better written and, notwithstanding lacunae, more complete. Ferdinand Delorme, who is responsible for bringing the text to modern awareness, entitled it De cognatione S. Francisci [The Kinship of Saint Francis]; in doing so, Delorme was following the indication of the Assisi manuscript. Forty years later, Marian Michalczyk, studying the Parisian manuscript, entitled the work De conformitate B. Francisci ad Christum [The Conformity of Blessed Francis to Christ], arguing that only the first part of the prologue of the work dealt with Francis's natural and religious family, while the bulk of the work described the author's intent: the saint's conformity to Christ.

A note at the beginning of the Paris manuscript of the work identifies its author:

These are some excerpts and items worthy of note taken from a compilation that was made, I believe, by Brother Arnald of Sarrant, the former provincial minister of Aquitaine and a grand master of sacred theology, on the life and deeds of our blessed father Francis and his companions not contained in his Legend, as they were written down and brought to light.4

When describing the French Province of Aquitaine and, in particular, its Custody of Toulouse, Bartholomew of Pisa (+1401) wrote of Arnald:

In the Province of Aquitaine, there is a place called Sarano that claimed Master Arnald of Sarano, who was Minister of Aquitaine for a long while. He was a man of praiseworthy life

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Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 673

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