- Simone da Collazzone Francescano e il processo per la sua canonizzazione (1252)
Franciscan studies, especially in Italy, have been experiencing a golden period. The focus of the scholarship has been mainly on the founding [End Page 598] moment, the origin of the rule of life developed by St. Francis and his companions—presently celebrating the 800th anniversary of its approval by Pope Honorius III—and efforts toward the resolution of the “Franciscan question”: Which one of the dozen or so hagiographical accounts of Francis’s life presented the real Francis? Current research has also focused on the “heredità difficile”: the multifaceted evolution of the early Franciscan movement often referred to as the quarrel between the Spirituals (those who fought for an unmitigated observance of the Franciscan rule) and the Community (those who felt that relaxations and accommodations were needed).
Simone da Collazzone belongs to the third generation of Franciscans and on the cusp of the burgeoning battle about who were the “legitimate sons” of Francis and how to interpret his rule. Unfortunately, very little is known about Simone’s life; most of it is culled from the Acts of his canonization trial (1252), which never reached a successful conclusion. In the opening chapter, Ernesto Menestò, who has been at the forefront of current Franciscan scholarship, sketches the framework for Simone’s life: he entered the Franciscan Order when he was fourteen years old (he knew Francis personally); was quickly sent on a three-year missionary venture to Germany; was elected, upon his return to Italy, provincial minister of the Marches and later Umbria; and died (1250) in Spoleto where he had the reputation for holiness and as a miracle maker. Menestò qualifies him as a “prospiritual” because he shared and lived the ideals of the primitive Franciscan community: observing the Gospel life and the sequela Christi by sharing the social condition of the poor, refusing money and power, serving the sick and the lepers; also, his life included periods spent in hermitages, which was also part of his protest against the nascent adaptations of the more conventual-minded Community.
Most of Menestò’s excellent monograph consists of a collection of the relevant available documentation concerning Simone’s life: the negotium for his canonization trial; its manuscript tradition and the criteria for a new critical edition; the Acts of the trial itself; the list of witnesses (seventy-four) and miracles; the numerous and sometimes lengthy references to him in the early chronicles of the Order; and selected illustrations.