The Kinship of Saint Francis - 714 


28a At Saint Mary of the Angels there was a brother from Germany, a master of theology, who spoke with Saint Francis with great reverence: "I promised firmly to observe the Gospel and the Rule which Christ has spoken through you, until the end, simply and faithfully, with the help of His grace. But one favor I ask of you. If in my lifetime the brothers fall as far away from the pure observance of the Rule as you predict through the Holy Spirit, I ask by your obedience that I may withdraw from those who do not observe it, alone or with some brothers who wish to observe it purely."

Hearing these things, Blessed Francis was overjoyed and, blessing him, said, "Know that what you asked is granted to you, by Christ and by me."

And he placed his right hand on his head, saying to him: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech." And Blessed Francis added that all the promises made to him by Christ would, in the end, be fulfilled in those who would strive to observe the Rule simply, to the letter, and without glosses, and with joy.

28b And out of those some shamelessly decided to withdraw from the community of the Order of their own will; because of which, as they say, the brothers observe the Rule not according to the letter, but as it is commented upon and interpreted by the Roman Pontiffs. To say this is reckless, to follow it is insane. For blessed Francis never gave anyone permission to leave the community, except to someone who is prevented from observing the Rule to the letter. And then he first ordered such brothers to have recourse to the ministers. The Roman Pontiffs have interpreted the Rule according to the intention of blessed Francis. Pope Gregory the Ninth maintained this, he who, I believe, knew blessed Francis's intention better than anyone living at that time since he was closest to him and was an advisor on the composition of the Rule, and was an ardent advocate for its confirmation. Pope Nicholas the Third also stated that he knew the saint's intention through his companions and deviated from it minimally in his declaration. Therefore, it should not be doubted that the Order's community understands the Rule and wishes to observe it according to blessed Francis's intention without gloss. But I call this for now the Order's community, not this or that convent, or this or that Province; but the intention of the Order's community. I speak here of what I believe to be the declarations and statutes of the General Chapter.

This statement is an addition or an interpretaion on that permission [given above], as I believe, of Brother Arnald of Sarrant of happy




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 714