Historia Occidentalis - 582 

1221, although there is evidence which would indicate that, like other parts of the work, it may not have been completed until 1223/25.a

1 As we have seen, [up to now] there have been three religious orders: hermits, monks, and canons. But in order that the state of those living according to a rule might rest firmly on a solid foundation, the Lord in these days has added a fourth form of religious life, the embellishment of a new order, and the holiness of a new rule.

2 But if we carefully consider the form and condition of the primitive Church, the Lord has not so much added a new way of living as renewed an old one; he lifted up one that was being cast aside, and revived one that was almost dead. Thus, in the twilight of this world that is tending to its end, at a time when the son of perdition is soon to arrive, he might prepare new athletes to confront the perilous times of the Antichrist, fortifying and propping up the Church.

3 This is the religious way of life of the true poor of the Crucified One and of the order of preachers whom we call Lesser Brothers. They are truly Minors, for they are more humble than all present-day religious in their habit, in their poverty and in their contempt of the world. They have one general superior, whose commands and regulations the lesser superiors and the other brothers of the same Order obey; he sends them throughout the various provinces of the world to preach and to save souls.

4 They diligently strive to renew in themselves the way of life of the primitive Church, its poverty and humility. They drink in the pure waters of the fountain of the Gospel with such thirst and ardor of spirit that they work hard at carrying out not only the evangelical precepts but the counsels as well, thus imitating more explicitly the life of the apostles. They renounce everything they possess; Lk 14:33 they deny themselves and take up their cross Mt 16:24 and, naked, follow the naked Christ. Like Joseph, they leave their cloak behind, like the Samaritan woman, their water jar.b They run their race unburdened. They walk before his face and do not turn back; forgetful of the past, they are always straining with tireless

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Historia Occidentalis, Historia occidentalis, p. 158-163


Historia Occidentalis (c. 1221/25)12

Predictis tribus eremitarum, monachorum et canonicorum religionibus, ut regulariter uiuentium quadratura fundamenti in soliditate sua firma subsisteret, addidit eis dominus in diebus istis quartam religionis institutionem, ordinis decorem et regule sanctitatem.

Si tamen ecclesie primitiue statum et ordinem diligenter attendamus, non tam nouam addidit regulam quam ueterem renouauit. Releuauit iacentem, et pene mortuam suscitauit religionem, et uespere mundi tendentis ad occasum, imminente tempore filii perditionis, ut contra antichristi periculosa tempora nouos athletas prepararet et ecclesiam suam premuniendo fulciret.

Hec est religio uere pauperum crucifixi et ordo predicatorum quos fratres minores appellamus. Vere minores, et omnibus huius temporis regularibus in habitu et nuditate et mundi contemptu humiliores. Habent autem unum summum priorem cuius mandatis et regularibus institutis reuerenter obediunt minores priores ceterique eiusdem ordinis fratres, quos per diuersas mundi prouincias causa predicationis et salutis animarum ipse transmittit.

Adeo autem primitiue ecclesie religionem, paupertatem et humilitatem in se diligenter reformare procurant, puras euangelici fontis aquas cum siti et ardore spiritus haurientes, quod non solum euangelica precepta sed et consilia, uitam apostolicam expressius imitantes, modis omnibus adimplere laborant. Omnibus que possident renunciantes, seipsos abnegantes crucem sibi tollendo, nudum nudi sequentes, relinquentes cum Ioseph pallium, et ydriam cum samaritana, expediti currunt. Ambulant ante faciem suam et non reuertuntur, posteriorum obliti in anteriora semper et passibus continuis extenduntur,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 582

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