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FRANCISCANA NOTES BROAD CULTURE OF FRIARS MINOR DURING MIDDLE AGES The narrow and exaggerated nationalism of our modern age has greatly impaired and is still retarding the catholicity of culture and science which formed such a characteristic mark of the Catholic Middle Ages. When the exchange of professors between Germany and the United States was first discussed, some forty years ago, the celebrated Protestant professor at the Berlin University Adolf Harnack published in February 1905 the following statement in the Preussische Jahrbuecher : In order to find teaching uninfluenced by national prepossessions, one must turn to the educational system of the Middle Ages. The famous teacher of that time was not confined to any one country; he lectured at Naples, Bologna, Paris, Cologne or Oxford. Likewise students roamed from school to school accordingly as the fame of great professors drew them. When later these students had graduated from the universities of various lands and had chosen a profession, they in turn did not keep fixed dwelling-places for any length of time but as professors, men of letters, clerks at ecclesiastical and civil courts, churchmen , artists and printers wandered from town to town to better living conditions. Thus there was kept up a constant intercommunication between the cultured classes; a man was not born for his native country but for the whole of Europe and the whole of Catholicity. The Friars Minor, who were not bound to stability of place like the Benedictine Monks, followed this trend of the educated classes with greater freedom than the other mendicant and itinerant friars. In regard to the school established at Strasburg in Alsace we read that in 1309 the Provincial Peter, an Englishman, had raised the prestige of the school to such an extent that students of the provinces of the Friars Minor and of other Orders flocked to Strasburg from England, France, Burgundy, Milan, various parts of Germany and Austria to study there philosophy and theology. Fifty years later we are informed that the Strasburg Province of the Friars Minor was conducting seven schools of theology and more than fifteen schools of philosophy, each at a different place. At the theological schools studied more than six hundred SECULAR scholars, and at the philosophical schools, which were likewise open to all, there was a large concourse of students. Apparently poor students received some alms, for the Chapter held at Mayence in 1326 admonished the Custodes to see to it that the students do not spend all their money on drink. In 1411 it was determined to which schools outside of the Strasburg Province Friars might be sent. We find mentioned among others the schools of Oxford and Cambridge in England, Erfurt and Cologne in Germany, Paris and Orleans in France, Vienna and Rome. On the other hand the following Provinces were given permission to send their students 231 232FRANCISCANA NOTES to Strasburg : Cologne, Saxony, England, Hungary, Ireland, Burgundy, Rome and Umbria. Friars who were sent outside the Strasburg Province had to study at least for three years at those places. Thereupon they received the degree of Lector, and had to teach as such for five years, then two years' study at the university of Paris followed, when the student returned as Master of Theology. A striking example of the great freedom of students in frequenting foreign schools is furnished at a later period by the celebrated Friar Minor of the Strasburg Province Thomas Murner. Born 1469 and entering the Order of Friars Minor at the age of fifteen years, he studied in succession at the following universities: Freiburg in Brisgovia, Paris, again at Freiburg, Cracow (here he received the degree of Bachelor of Theology), Cologne, Rostock, Prague, again Freiburg (where he was promoted to the licencĂ­ate of theology), Rome, Venice, again at Cracow, for the fourth time at Freiburg (where in 1505 he was promoted to Master of Theology) and Bern. His father defrayed the cost and spent six hundred ducats for his son who was a type of the itinerant scholars of his day.1 Murner opposed Luther and he was among all the antagonists of Luther the most witty, striking, and popular one. He died in 1530. A FRIAR MINOR...


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