Writings of Jacques de Vitry - 579 

productive in good deeds. Already this order has so multiplied that in the diocese of Milan there are over one hundred and fifty communities, some of men and others of women, not counting those who still live in their own homes.

Departing from there, I arrived at Perugia. There I discovered Pope Innocent dead, but not yet buried. During the night some thieves had stripped his body of all the precious vestments with which he was to be interred, and left it there in the church virtually naked and already decaying. I went into the church and saw with utter faith how fleeting and empty is the deceitful glory of this world. The day after the funeral, the cardinals elected Honorius, an elderly and devout man, quite simple and humble, who had distributed almost all his patrimony to the poor. He was consecrated as Supreme Pontiff the Sunday after his election; I myself received episcopal ordination from him the following Sunday. . . . I received permission from him for the devout women, not only of the diocese of Liège, but also of the Kingdom [of France] and of the Empire, to live together in community and to encourage one another to do good through mutual exhortations . . .a
. . . After I had been at the Curia for a while, I encountered a great deal that was repugnant to me. They were so occupied with worldly affairs, with rulers and kingdoms, with lawsuits and litigation, that they hardly let anyone speak of spiritual things. I did find, however, one source of consolation in those parts. Many well-to-do secular people of both sexes, having left all things for Christ, had fled the world. They were called “Lesser Brothers” and “Lesser Sisters.” They are held in great reverence by the Lord Pope and the Cardinals. They are in no way occupied with temporal things, but with fervent desire and ardent zeal they labor each day to draw from the vanities of the world souls that are perishing, and draw them to their way of life. Thanks be to God, they have already reaped great fruit and have converted many. Those who have heard them, say: “Come,” so that one group brings another.

They live according to the form of the primitive Church, about whom it was written: The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. Acts 4:32 During the day they go into the cities and villages giving themselves over to the active life in order to gain others; at night, however, they return to their hermitage or solitary places to devote themselves to contemplation. The women dwell together near the cities in various hospices, accepting nothing, but living by the work of their

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Littres de Jacques de Vitry, Littres de Jacques de Vitry, p. 72-76


in operibus efficaces. Adeo autem huiusmodi religio in episcopatu Mediolanensi multiplicata est, quod CL congregationes conventuales, virorum ex una parte, mulierum ex altera, constituerunt, exceptis hiis qui in domibus propriis remanserunt. Post hoc veni in civitatem quandam que Perusium nuncupatur, in qua papam Innocentium inveni mortuum, sed nundum sepultum, quem de nocte quidam furtive vestimentis preciosis, cum quibus sci <licet sepeliendus > erat, spoliaverunt; corpus autem eius fere nudum et fetidum in ecclesia relinquerunt. Ego autem ecciesiam intravi et ocul <a >ta fide cognovi quam brevis sit et vana huius seculi fallax gloria. Sequenti autem die elegerunt cardin <al >es Honorium, bonum senem et religiosum, simplicem valde et benignum, qui fere omnia que habere | poterat pauperibus erogaverat. Ipse autem die dominica post electionem eius in summum pontificem consecratus est; ego autem proxima sequente dominica episcopalem suscepi consecrationem...Obtinui preterea ab ipso, et litteras cum executoribus et protectoribus impetravi, ut liceret mulieribus religiosis non solum in episcopatu Leodi[n]ensi, sed tam in regno quam in imperio in eadem domo simul manere et sese invicem mutuis exhortationibus ad bonum invitare ....

Cum autem aliquanto tempore fuissem in curia, multa inveni spiritui meo contraria: adeo enim circa secularia et temporalia, circa reges et regna, circa lites et iurgia occupati erant, quod vix de spiritalibus aliquid loqui permittebant. Vnum tamen in partibus illis inveni solatium, multi enim utriusque sexus divites et seculares omnibus pro Christo relictis seculum fugiebant, qui Fratres Minores et Sorores Minores vocabantur. A domno papa et cardinalibus in magna reverentia habentur, hii auteur circa temporalia nullatenus occupantur, sed ferventi desiderio et vehementi studio singulis diebus laborant ut animas que pereunt a seculi vanitatibus retrahant et eas secum ducant. Et iam per gratiam dei magnum fructum fecerunt et multos lucrati sunt, ut qui audit dicat: veni, et cortina cortinam trahat. Ipsi autem secundum formam primitive ecclesie vivunt, de quibus scriptum est : multitudinis credentium erat cor unum et anima una. De die intrant civitates et villas, ut aliquos lucrifaciant operam dantes actione; nocte vero revertuntur ad heremum vel loca solitaria vacantes contemplationi. Mulieres vero iuxta civitates in diversis hospitiis simul commorantur; nichil accipiunt, sed de labore manuum <suarum > vivunt,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 579

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