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279 Franciscan Studies 61 (2003) CONFERENCE REVIEW Verba Domini Mei The Franciscan university in Rome, the Pontificio Ateneo “Antonianum,” hosted an international conference April 10-12, 2002. Under the title Verba Domini Mei, the conference marked the twentyfifth anniversary of Kajetan Esser’s edition of the Opuscula of Francis of Assisi. The papers presented, as well as the addresses of welcome, have since been published: A. Cacciotti, ed., Verba Domini mei. Gli “Opuscula” di Francesco d’Assisi a 25 anni dalla edizione di Kajetan Esser, ofm.1 Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski opened the scholarly gathering. As he welcomed everyone, he stressed the importance of bringing the whole Franciscan family together. From there he went on to underline the significance of Father Kajetan Esser’s return to the origins. The study of the words of Saint Francis, Cardinal Grocholewski proposed, is helping us rediscover the actuality of his message. Father Giacomo Bini, the Minster General of the Order of Friars Minor, focused attention on the forcefulness of Francis’s words, capable then, as well as now, of drawing people together. Following in turn, Sister Carola Thomann, president of the International Franciscan Conference of Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular, addressed the gathering. She pointed out the scholarly and pastoral contribution of Esser as well as the charisma he brought to his labors. The Definitor General of the Franciscans for the German language, Peter Schorr, reflected on the fascination and the energy of all beginnings. Esser, he insisted, had looked closely at the novelty of the early Franciscan years, which caught the attention of so many of his contemporaries. Marco Nobile, Rector of the Antonianum, recalled the great importance of Esser’s critical edition of the Writings. The best way to honor the accomplishment, he continued, is to study closely the texts themselves. Aldo La Neve, Minster Provincial of the O.F.M. Roman Province, concluded the opening addresses by 1 Rome, Edizioni Antonianum, 2003, 502pp. CONFERENCE REVIEW 280 stressing the enduring novelty and importance of the Writings in the present. In the first formal lecture of the conference, Johannes B. Freyer reviewed Esser’s bibliography, so important for making Francis’s Writings known throughout the Franciscan world. He paused in particular at Esser’s Antwort der Liebe (Love’s Reply, Chicago, 1963), one of Esser’s most important books. At the center of the Writings there is the paradox of an unlettered author, for Francis insisted that he had no learning. Carlo Paolazzi picked up on that by analyzing with delicacy and precision Francis’s culture. Then he brought the act of writing into conjunction with the whole scope of Francis’s religious experience. This allowed him to define rigorously Francis’s vocabulary. His careful analysis, together with several passages where Francis quotes himself, led to the confirmation of the canon, the list of the authentic Writings. From there Paolazzi went on to compare the fluctuations and the uncertainties in the criteria used in the editions prior to Esser’s and, finally, to the criteria followed by Esser himself. By reviewing Esser’s study of the “Fragmenta alterius Regulae non bullatae,” Paolazzi was able to look at his way of working. He finished by proposing the direction of further research. In this way he honored the German Franciscan by finding and continuing from the point at which Esser had stopped. For years now Attilio Bartoli Langeli has given his attention to the autographs of Brother Francis. In his narration he attempted to sum up his conclusions. He began by observing that Francis was not wholly illiterate. On the contrary, he wanted to write to bear witness to the Word. As for the Letter of Spoleto, the hypothesis seems confirmed that it was written at two different moments. Four lines were added, either by Brother Leo or Brother Francis. The wording on the outer side of the Chartula of Assisi, the Benedictio, has been fixed, but not the wording of the Laudes on the inner side of the parchment. There still are difficulties with the lettering and quite probably the loss of the last line of the text. So, much work is still needed to clear up the open questions and...


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