Earlier Exhortation - 41 

To the Brothers and Sisters of Penancea

(The First Version of the Letter to the Faithful)
(1209-1215)

The earliest manuscript of this writing, located in the Guarnacci Library in the Italian city of Volterra, introduces it with these words: "These are words of life and salvation. Whoever reads and follows them will find life and draw from the Lord salvation." While Kajetan Esser entitled it The First Version of the Letter to the Faithful, it has been more correctly seen as an exhortation given to those first penitents who came to Francis desiring to share in his Gospel way of life. Since 1976, when Kajetan Esser brought the text into prominence, it has served as the Prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order.

In the Name of the Lord!

[Chapter One] Those Who Do Penance

1All those who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with their whole strength Mk12:30 and love their neighbors as themselves, Mt 22:39 2who hate their bodies with their vices and sins, 3who receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4and who produce worthy fruits of penance. 5O how happy and blessed are these men and women while they do such things and persevere in doing them,b Mt 22:39 6because the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them Is 11:2 and make Its home and dwelling place among them, Jn 14:23 7and they are children of the heavenly Father Whose works they do, Mt 5:45 and they are spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mt 12:50

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Epistola ad fideles (Recensio prior), Fontes Franciscani, p. 73


Epistola ad fideles (Recensio prior)

[Caput I]
De illis qui faciunt poenitentiam

1Omnes qui Dominum diligunt ex toto corde, ex tota anima et mente, ex tota virtute et diligunt proximos suos sicut se ipsos 2et odio habent corpora eorum cum vitiis et peccatis 3et recipiunt corpus et sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, 4et faciunt fructus dignos poenitentiae : 5O quam beati et benedicti sunt illi et illae, dum talia faciunt et in talibus perseverant, 6quia requiescet super eos spiritus Domini et faciet apud eos habitaculum et mansionem,7et sunt filii patris caelestis, cuius opera faciunt, et sunt sponsi, fratres et matres Domini nostri Jesu Christi.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 41

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