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 The Kinship of Saint Francis - 674 

and talent, who transcribed everything he could find about blessed Francis.5

Although there is no precise record of the dates, it seems that Arnald served his brothers as Provincial Minister between the years 1361 and 1383; yet there is little recorded about his ministry among them.6 In the Annales, Luke Wadding notes that Arnald was sent by Pope Gregory XI to Spain between 1373 and 1375.7 Aside from this information, nothing is known about Arnald. The Chronicle of the Twenty-Four General Ministers—from Saint Francis to Leonard di Giffoni (1373-1378)—is generally recognized as his work,8 and, according to the Parisian manuscript, so too is The Kinship of Saint Francis.

Two clues suggest when Arnald wrote the Kinship. The first is a reference to Francesco, one of two great-grand-nephews of the saint who became Lesser Brothers. According to Arnald, Francesco lived ad mortalitatem, an expression indicating that he was a victim of the Black Plague of 1349. The second reference is to the saint's great-grand-niece, Francesca, whom Arnald states vivit et est adhuc juvencula anno Domini 1365 [is living and still a young girl in the year of the Lord, 1365]. The parameters are quite unmistakable: the text was written after 1349 and clearly after 1365.

At the outset Arnald is clear in articulating his purpose in writing this work. In no way does he intend it to replace the "principal legend" of Bonaventure for which he has great respect. Its author, Arnald maintains, is an "outstanding teacher"; it was written in a "marvelous style"; and it is "sufficient" for providing an overview of the life of Francis. As he articulates it, Arnald's purpose is to gather together in a more easily followed manner "those things that touch on the same material in other different legends, that are scattered in the scrolls and sayings of the companions, things that the lord Bonaventure omitted totally or partially because everything could not come to his awareness." Since both manuscripts are badly preserved and filled with large gaps, it is impossible to determine how successfully Arnald achieved his purpose. The last five chapters of his work contain only fragments. Should other manuscripts of the Kinship ever be found, it will be especially interesting to discover how Arnald portrays Francis's evangelization of the peoples, a theme that is largely overlooked in the fourteenth century documents.

Nothing in the text reveals the circumstances prompting the composition of the text, although there are two statements that may provide an understanding of the historical environment in which it was presented to the friars. In the first place, Arnald's text clearly places him in the apocalyptic line of the followers of Joachim of Fiore, Peter of John Olivi and Ubertino. "At last, in the sixth age, almost on the sixth day, came a human being, Francis, made in God's image and likeness." Once again Francis is understandably portrayed as a prophet appearing in eschatological terms. The Kinship reveals Arnald's awareness of the Black Plague (1347-1350) that had just reached its worst phase, the enervating problems of the papacy that remained at Avignon (1308-78), and the increasing tensions among the Lesser Brothers. To




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 674

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