On 22 February 2023 the Maltese OFM Province celebrated a half-day seminar on the occasion of the 800 years of the confirmation of the Regula bullata in 1223. For the occasion Br. Cesare Vaiani ofm, General Definitor and Franciscan scholar, was invited to give a talk to the brothers on the historical aspects of the Rule and its relevance in the life of us, Friars Minor, today. In this issue of our cultural review we are offering an English translation of the paper presented by Br. Cesare. The theme of the Rule is also continued in the paper regarding Saint Francis and the Cardinal Ugo di Ostia, who was cardinal protector of the Order and who helped the saint in the drafting of the text of the same Rule. The year 1223 also marks the moment in which Saint Anthony of Padua became the first lector of theology of the Order in the studium of the friars in Bologna. Two short papers will deal with Anthony of Padua. The first one is dedicated to a rather obscure shrine on Capo Milazzo in Sicily, where Anthony was shipwrecked in 1221, when on his return from Morocco to Spain his ship was blown off course. This event marked the beginning of his journey to Assisi for the general chapter of 1221 and then on to Monte Paolo, from where he eventually moved to go to Bologna to teach theology. The second paper is dedicated to this ministry of lector and its approval by Saint Francis through a short note that forms part of the Writings of Francis, the Letter to brother Anthony.
FRANCISCAN SOURCES ONLINE IN MALTESE
The Sources for the Lives of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Clare of Assisi, and Saint Anthony of Padua were translated and edited into Maltese and published in four volumes in the years 2005-2008 by Edizzjoni TAU, the publishing house of the Maltese OFM Province. These publications were the fruit of long years of hard work on the part of a group of Franciscan brothers and a Poor Clare Sister, namely Fr. Raymond Camilleri OFM, the Editor-in-chief, Fr. Marjanu Vella OFM, Fr. Joseph Benedict Xuereb OFM, Fr. Noel Muscat OFM, and Sister Maria Immacolata Bellizzi OSC. Except for Fr. Noel Muscat these Franciscans are all dead, but the monumental work they left as a legacy lives on. The Maltese Franciscans are proud that, although being such a small Province, they have published all the Franciscan Sources in translation from the original Latin, and with introductions, notes, bibliography and indexes. Together with these Sources, Fr. Noel Muscat also published the Life of Saint Francis discovered by Jacques Dalarun, and known as the Vita Brevior, which we also include as another volume among the Sources. These volumes are now available online on this website as another effort to offer a service to Franciscan formation and to the knowledge of the Franciscan life and mission to all those who would like to read them.
The complete list of these four volumes plus one, which can be downloaded from this website in the Franciscan Texts section, is the following:
• Fonti għall-ħajja ta’ San Franġisk t’Assisi. Vol. I – Il-Kitbiet ta’ San Franġisk. Fonti Medjevali tal-ħajja ta’ San Franġisk. Traduzzjoni mill-Edizzjoni Kritika Latina: Noel Muscat, Marjanu Vella, Ġużepp Beneditt Xuereb. Introduzzjonijiet u apparat kritiku: Noel Muscat, Edizzjoni TAU, Provinċja Franġiskana Maltija tal-Patrijiet Minuri, Malta 2005, pp. xxii+663.
• Fonti għall-ħajja ta’ San Franġisk t’Assisi. Vol. II – Fonti Medjevali tal-ħajja ta’ San Franġisk. Traduzzjoni mill-Edizzjoni Kritika Latina: Noel Muscat, Marjanu Vella, Ġużepp Beneditt Xuereb. Introduzzjonijiet u apparat kritiku: Noel Muscat, Edizzjoni TAU, Provinċja Franġiskana Maltija tal-Patrijiet Minuri, Malta 2005, pp. vi+599.
• Fonti għall-ħajja ta’ Santa Klara. Il-Kitbiet ta’ Santa Klara. Fonti Medjevali tal-ħajja ta’ Santa Klara. Traduzzjoni mill-Edizzjoni Kritika Latina: Marija Immakulata Bellizzi, Noel Muscat, Ġużepp Beneditt Xuereb. Introduzzjonijiet u apparat kritiku: Noel Muscat, Sorijiet Klarissi, Monasteru Santa Klara, Malta – Edizzjoni TAU, Patrijiet Franġiskani, Malta 2006, pp. 460.
• Fonti għall-ħajja ta’ Sant’Antnin ta’ Padova. Traduzzjoni mill-Edizzjoni Kritika Latina: Noel Muscat, Ġużepp Beneditt Xuereb. Introduzzjonijiet u apparat kritiku: Noel Muscat, Edizzjoni TAU, Patrijiet Franġiskani, Malta 2008, pp. 549.
• San Franġisk t’Assisi. Ħabib ta’ Alla, Ħabib ta’ Kristu, Ħabib tal-Kurċifiss. Il-Ħajja tal-Imqaddes Missier Tagħna Franġisku (Vita Brevior) ta’ fra Tommaso da Celano. Introduzzjoni u Traduzzjoni ta’ Noel Muscat, Patrijiet Franġiskani, Malta 2016, pp. 77.
Spirit+Life 143 (January – March 2023)
Spirit+Life 143 (January – March 2023) The celebration of the 800 years since the confirmation of the Franciscan Rule by Pope Honorius III (29 November 1223) will be the main theme of our Review of Franciscan Culture for this year. We have already introduced the theme in the October – December 2022 issue. This time this Review examines Bonaventure’s view of Francis’ role in the composition of the Rule, as he presents it in the Legenda Maior Sancti Francisci. The theme of the confirmation of the Rule is also linked with the question of the identity of the Friars Minor in their quest for observing the Gospel form of life. This issue dwells upon the contents of the 30th Congress of the International Society of Franciscan Studies held in Assisi on 13-15 October 2022, with the theme “Identity and Self-Consciousness of the Friars Minor during the 13th and 14th Centuries.” Another important anniversary on the local scene of Franciscan life in Malta has been the 50 years of the inauguration of the Provincial Library Hall in the Franciscan friary of Valletta on 12 December 1972. This event marked a new beginning in the long 342 year-old history of the Valletta OFM Library, founded in 1681 by Fr. Filiberto Peylabere, and enriched by many volumes belonging to Fr. Liborio Caruana (1660-1718) and especially Fr. Costanzo Vella (1691-1759). The Library Hall is undergoing restoration works and it is hoped that it will soon be ready as a veritable storehouse of knowledge in the fields of Franciscan Studies and Maltese History
Spirit+Life 142 (October – December 2022)
The last issue of 2022 of our Franciscan Culture on line Review is dedicated to the upcoming 8th centenary of the confirmation of the Regula Bullata of the Friars Minor by Pope Honorius III on 29th November 1223. An introductory paper studies the issue of identity of the Friars Minor seen against the historical background of the unfolding of Franciscan legislation from the Propositum Vitæ approved by Innocent III in 1209, on to the Regula non Bullata and to the definitive Franciscan Rule confirmed in 1223. The liturgical celebration of the feast of St. Francis is rich in lyric texts composed by Julian of Speyer, a magister cantus in the household of the King of France, and the author of a Vita Sancti Francisci and of the Officium Rhythmicum Sancti Francisci. This Rhymed Office is a work of poetry and music that adds solemnity and dignity to the liturgical celebration of St. Francis, and was composed by Julian himself, with other texts coming from the pen of eminent churchmen, like Pope Gregory IX and Cardinals Thomas of Capua and Rainerio Capocci, all of whom had known St. Francis. A final paper by Kevin Tortorelli OFM is a philosophical reflection upon the anthropological and theological vision of Nietzsche and St. Francis, a rather unusual couple of thinkers!
Spirit+Life 141 Supplement (July-September 2022)
Spirit+Life 141 is dedicated to the figure of Fr. Raymond (Michael Paul) Camilleri OFM, who passed away on 22 June 2022 in Nicosia, Cyprus, while he was in service to the Holy Land Custody in the friary of Larnaca. Fr. Raymond (1948-2022) was a leading figure in the Maltese OFM Province for many years, especially for his prophetic outlook on Franciscan life and mission. This issue is dedicated to his memory and is a tribute to him as founder of this Franciscan Cultural Review.
Spirit+Life 141 (July – September 2022)
One of the interesting aspects of Franciscan theology and spirituality during the first century of its existence (late 13thand early 14thcenturies) was its reflection upon the apocalyptic nature of the history of the Franciscan Order, as seen against the background of the theology of history of the Middle Ages, that gave great importance to the Book of the Apocalypse. The visionary abbot Joachim of Fiore had introduced this trend that was developed by many others, including a good number of Franciscan scholars and mystics. The figure of St. Francis was often seen as an expression of the visions that John had in the Apocalypse, regarding the angel of the sixth seal (chapter 7) and the angel bearing the scroll (chapter 10). The aim of this issue of S+L will be to present a short analysis of this trend in Franciscan theology of history.
Spirit+Life 140 (April-June 2022)
The Guidelines for the Sexennium(2021-2027) of the Order underline the aspect of Synodality in the Church and also in our lives as Friars Minor. This issue of Spirt+Lifededicates the editorial to this theme and applies it to our present situation as a religious family in the Church and in the world. The issue continues the historical presentation of the year 1222 in the life of St. Francis, as it is presented by the Franciscan historian Luke Wadding in the Annales Minorum. Two short articles feature Jacopone da Todi as a poet, by Anthony Carrozzo OFM, and the Patristic influences on Franciscan Thought, by Kevin Tortorelli OFM. Then follows the continuation of a partial translation of sections from the Chronicleof Nicholas Glassberger.
Ancient Arabic manuscripts in the Franciscan Provincial archives to be restored
Three Book Conservation Alumni from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation have been awarded The Barakat Trust Major Award to be used for the conservation of the Islamic Manuscript Collection at the Franciscan Provincial Archives in Malta. Awarded annually, this is the first time the award has been given to a conservation project in Malta. The award covers material costs up to a maximum of £10,000 and the project will run until September 2023 – after that the manuscripts will be made available to researchers. Read more in the Press Release.
Spirit + Life 139 (January – March 2022)
This issue of Spirit+Life features a paper on events in the life of Saint Francis during 1222 according to the Annales Minorumby Luke Wadding. This Franciscan historian records various events in the life of Saint Francis, which are also found in the Franciscan Sources, but without a specific date. Our aim is that of providing a set of papers on this theme during this year 2022. Anthony Carrozzo OFM provides a short paper entitled “Becoming a Prayer” in order to show the richness of the prayer of thanksgiving that Francis composed in chapter 23 of the Regula non bullata of 1221. Another paper is a translation of a study on the studium of Arabic in the Franciscan friary of Santa Marija ta’ Ġesù in Valletta, Malta, founded during the 17thcentury by Maltese friars who were professors of Arabic in the colleges of the Order in Rome, where missionaries prepared themselves to go to the Oriental missions and the Holy Land. This translation has been done as a result of the current restoration of the Arabic manuscripts conseved in the Provincial OFM Archives of Valletta, Malta, by a group of expert document and group conservators. Finally, the review features a translation of another section of the Chronicleof Nicholas Glassberger.