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Writings Concerning the Franciscan Order

Dominic V. Monti

Publication Year: 1994

After introducing the reader to Bonaventure as General Minister of the Franciscan Order, this volume presents twenty documents and helpful introductions to their importance.

Published by: Franciscan Institute Publications

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

This completed book looks quite different than what I had first envisioned. The idea for it arose a number of years ago, when I began teaching a course in Franciscan history. I was faced quickly with the lack of sources in English on the history of the Order after the time of St. Francis, and thought that a translation of some of...

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pp. 1-36

In February of 1257, Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, for the previous three years regent master of the general study house of the Friars Minor at the University of Paris, was unanimously elected general minister of his 30,000 member brotherhood, spread throughout Western Christendom. He would occupy that position for the next...

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A Letter in Response to Three Questions of an Unknown Master (1254-55)

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pp. 39-56

One of the more unedifying features of the mendicant movement was the polemic which at times marked the spirited rivalry between the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Each claimed to be reviving the 'apostolic life' within the contemporary church, yet their respective interpretations of what such a life entailed differed on several...

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First Encyclical Letter (1257)

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pp. 57-62

Bonaventure was elected General Minister in 1257 at an emotionally–charged chapter in which his charismatic predecessor, John of Parma, tainted with the brush of radical Joachite ideas, had resigned, most likely at the behest of Pope Alexander IV.1 The controversies which had threatened the Order for most...

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A Letter to the Count and Countess of Flanders (1259)

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pp. 63-65

People in the Middle Ages were extremely fearful at the prospect of appearing before Christ at the Last Judgment and thus were preoccupied with providing penitential satisfaction for their sins, a debt which would have to be paid either in this life or in purgatory. The common belief was that the best insurance of...

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A Letter to the Abbess and Sisters of the Monastery of St. Clare in Assisi (1259)

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pp. 67-70

This is the first of several letters Bonaventure wrote concerning the Poor Clares, and indicates his appreciation of the distinctive woman's expression of Franciscan religious life initiated by her.1 Although it would seem highly unlikely that Bonaventure ever met Clare herself, he certainly knew of her holy life, if only through the official...

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The Constitutions of Narbonne (1260)

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pp. 71-135

There is no doubt that this edition of the general constitutions of the Friars Minor, along with his Life of St. Francis, was Bonaventure's greatest contribution as General Minister to the on-going development of the Franciscan Order. Together, these two documents would shape the ideals and life of the brotherhood for generations to come...

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Statutes Issued by the Chapter of Narbonne (1260)

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pp. 137-144

Besides approving Bonaventure's new edition of the general constitutions, the Chapter of Narbonne also passed a number of additional statutes. Bonaventure's firm hand is certainly evident in the decrees. A good deal of this legislation would later be incorporated into the 1279 revision of the constitutions.1 There is one...

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Instructions for Novices (c.1260)

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pp. 145-175

Bonaventure undoubtedly shared the sentiments of his fellow major superior, Humbert of Romans, who asserted that "the whole hope of a religious Order hinges on the initial formation of the novices."1 Although a heightened concern for the importance of a novitiate year was typical of all religious at this period,2 this was...

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Statutes Issued by the Chapter of Pisa (1263)

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pp. 177-188

A good many of the decrees of the general chapters during Bonaventure's administration are devoted to the Order's liturgy; these, emanating from the second chapter at which he presided, held at Pisa in 1263, are exclusively so. This concern should not be surprising. Corporate prayer is a crucial element in the life of any...

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Two Letters on the Friars' Relations with the Poor Clares (1263)

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pp. 189-198

If readers were to judge the general chapter of Pisa in 1263 only by the meticulous liturgical legislation enacted there, they would gain a false impression of the mood of this assembly, for the truly burning issue on the delegates' minds was not reflected in its decrees, namely, the nature of the relationship of the Friars Minor with...

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Statutes Issued by the Chapter of Paris (1266)

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pp. 199-203

In May of 1266 Bonaventure presided over his third general chapter in the place that he had called home for most of his Franciscan life: the 'great convent' of Paris. Its massive new church was a striking symbol of the prominence of the Order on the pastoral and intellectual scene of Western Europe.1 Despite the bitter opposition of many secular clergy to...

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Explanations of the Constitutions of Narbonne (1266)

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pp. 205-224

The publication of a new fundamental code of law for the Order at Narbonne in 1260 raised many questions regarding its interpretation. No legislator can foresee every contingency, and soon there were friars wondering if certain provisions applied to them. Within a few years ministers and visitors, charged with the...

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Second Encyclical Letter (1266)

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pp. 225-229

A space of nine years separates Bonaventure's first encyclical letter from his second. During this time as General Minister he had traveled widely, familiarizing himself with conditions in the Order and gaining a wealth of experience in dealing with its problems. This letter, harsher in tone than its predecessor, reveals...

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A Letter to All Brothers Who May Be Concerned (1266)

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pp. 231-232

As the Order expanded, recognized boundaries for its various houses had to be agreed upon, so that friars would not be competing with one another in their preaching activities or soliciting alms. This was especially true when the houses belonged to different provinces. This letter concerns one such situation: friars from the...

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Agreement with the Canons of the Cathedral of Cambrai (1268)

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pp. 233-238

As Franciscans throughout Europe increasingly sought to move closer to their ministerial clientele and establish permanent residences in towns, this almost invariably created some disturbance. Space within a walled medieval town was at a premium to begin with, and the advent of this new type of pastoral...

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Decrees Issued by the Chapter of Assisi (1269)

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pp. 239-243

Bonaventure's fourth general chapter was held in Assisi in May, 1269. Once again, the Friars Minors were embroiled in controversy. Several years earlier Clement IV had renewed a privilege allowing the friars to hear the confessions of laity without first consulting their parish priest, an action which had stirred up the smoldering...

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A Letter to the Canons of Kaiserswerth (1269)

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pp. 245-246

One of Bonaventure's tasks as General Minister was responding to various requests for spiritual affiliation with the Order sent to the general chapter.1 This letter is a good reminder of the fact that many members of the older orders welcomed the presence of the Franciscans and were generous to them; in an atmosphere of...

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A Letter to the Custodian and the Guardian of Pisa (1271)

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pp. 247-248

Once again, we have a letter illustrating Bonaventure's concern with his brothers' ministry to their Franciscan sisters. It illustrates that relations between the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares still continued to be matter of some concern. Certainly, a basic policy had been enunciated in 1263: the friars would accept responsibility for the...

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Statutes Issued by the Chapter of Lyons (1272)

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pp. 249-252

The fifth general chapter of the Order over which Bonaventure presided was held at Lyons in June, 1272. For the preceding year he had been deeply engaged in the affairs of the wider church. Coming into Italy in the spring of 1271, Bonaventure was drawn into a major crisis involving not only his own Friars Minor, but all of...

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A Letter to the Abbot of Bourgmoyen in Blois (1273)

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pp. 253-254

This letter is another example where Bonaventure was called upon to exercise his skills as a diplomat. There had been a long standing dispute between the friars in Blois, in the province of Touraine, with the canons of a collegiate church there, yet another instance of the sensitivity of the clergy towards the invasion of...

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Decrees Issued by the Chapter of Lyons (1274)

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pp. 256-260

An extraordinary general chapter of the Friars Minor was held in conjunction with the Second Council of Lyons in May, 1274. Soon after his coronation, Gregory X announced his intention to summon an ecumenical council to reinvigorate efforts for the Crusade, achieve union with the Eastern church, and further implement the...

Appendix: Daily Life in the Medieval Friary

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pp. 261-265


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pp. 267-269

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 271-274


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pp. 275-281

E-ISBN-13: 9781576592489
E-ISBN-10: 1576592480
Print-ISBN-13: 9781576590478
Print-ISBN-10: 157659047X

Page Count: 281
Publication Year: 1994

Edition: First
Volume Title: Volume V