Spirit+Life No. 134 October – December 2020

Review of Franciscan Culture

The year 2021 will mark the 8th centenary since the approval of the Regula non bullataof the friars Minor (1221). So called because it never received papal confirmation through an official bulla, it is an important document for its rich scriptural and spiritual contents and because it constitutes an immediate preparation for the Regula bullata of the friars Minor, confirmed by Pope Honorius III on 29 November 1223 with the bulla “Solet annuere”. This issue of S+L will examine the historical circumstances leading to the formation of this Rule. Other papers include a short presentation of the Franciscan Spirituality of some ancient works of art in the church of Santa Marija ta’ Ġesù in Rabat, Malta. These artefacts include the marble statue of Antonello Gagini of Messina, which is currently under restoration, and two panels of the original altarpiece of the original church, the work of Antonello de Saliba of Messina. All artefacts date from the early years of the 16th century. They were also described in an 18th century chronicle by a Maltese Franciscan, dealing with the first two friaries of the Franciscan friars Minor in Malta, both dedicated to “Santa Marija ta’ Ġesù” (Ta’ Ġieżu), a popular title with Franciscans of the Regular Observance in Sicily during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Spirit + Life No. 133: July – September 2020

Review of Franciscan Culture

The Franciscan Cultural Review “Spirit+Life” 133 (July – September 2020) features two papers by fr. Noel Muscat, one on Franciscan Theology Tradition and its Relevance to our Contemporary Culture, and the other on the Letter “Cum secundum consilium” of Pope Honorius III (22 September 1220), introducing the novitiate in the Franciscan Order. The Review also features an abridged translated form of the paper published by Emil Kumka OFMConv in the Franciscan scientific review “Miscellanea Francescana” 111 (2011), entitled “Leo XIII and the Franciscan Family”, taking into account the efforts of Leo XIII to renew the Third Franciscan Secular Order. On the occasion of the 50 years since the reorganisation of the Provincial Archives of the Maltese OFM Province by the late Fr. George Aquilina (†2012), we present a translation of his own presentation of the same Archives, published in his prestigious history of the Maltese Franciscan OFM friars in 2011, just one year before his demise.

Spirit + Life No. 132: April – June 2020

Review of Franciscan Culture

This issue commemorates a group of Franciscan friars who died as martyrs in Jerusalem after they brazenly went to preach to the Muslims. Nikola Tavelić, Adeodat of Rodez, Peter of Narbonne and Stefano da Cuneo were canonised by Pope Paul VI in June 1970, fifty years ago. Their martyrdom, seen from a purely historical perspective, does not add much to the crusader ideal of dying for the faith by wielding the sword or, in this case, the word of preaching to convert. The same can be said of another Franciscan penitent, a great intellectual, namely Ramon Llull. He also was an ardent apostle of the Gospel among the Saracens, but his methodology was based upon the effective result of dialogue through learning and study. After the loss of the crusader dream at the end of the 13th century, other Franciscan missionaries and thinkers tried to come to grips with how to recover what had been lost to western civilisation by changing strategy and methodology. Not that they lost their allegiance to the crusader ideal of conquering the Holy Land. They did not forget that the ideal of carrying the Cross among those who were considered to be “Saracens and non-believers” was still a calling to be followed, but in a different way. These learned Franciscans tried the way of persuasion through dialogue, based upon study and learning. They were still sons of their times, and they still dreamt of one unified army and navy which could guarantee the safety of the Christian strongholds in Outremer. However, for them, the use of the force of arms was not to be the only method to follow. Indeed, it would have to be used only as a last resort. Their writings still resemble treatises on military strategy. Fidenzio da Padova, a Franciscan of the Holy Land, is a case in point, being ready to compose a plan for the recovery of the Holy Land. However, in heart, these men were convinced that their calling was that of being missionaries. For this reason, dialogue based upon intellectual openness to cultures, languages and religions, was fundamental. They were innovators.

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Spirit + Life No. 131: January – March 2020

SPIRIT + LIFE

Review of Franciscan Culture

 

The Franciscan Cultural Review “Spirit+Life” 131 (January – March 2020) features papers commemorating events in the early history of the Franciscan Order, particularly referring to the year 1220. The development of the Order from the Forma Vitae of 1219 to the Regola non bullata of 1221 is the subject of an initial analysis of the contents of the Earlier Rule that was approved nearly 800 years ago, in view of a more profound attention to the theme in 2021. The 200 years since the discovery of Saint Francis Tomb in the crypt of the Assisi Basilica on 4 December 1818, constitute the subject of a summary of a study published in the review Miscellanea Francescana. The year 1220 was also an important moment for the early Franciscan fraternity. During Francis’ absence in the East the Order went through a crisis. A solution was found with the institution of the Cardinal Protector in the person of Ugo di Ostia, who took care to ensure that the friars Minor would be accepted as catholics, particularly in France. Thus, Pope Honorius III published the Bulla Pro dilectis (29 May 1220). Lastly, on 16 January 1220, Brothers Berardo Calvi and Companions suffered martyrdom in Marrakesh, Morocco. They are the first martyrs of the Order.

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Spirit + Life No. 130: October – December 2019

 

SPIRIT + LIFE

October – December 2019

 

The Franciscan Cultural Review “Spirit+Life” 130 (October – December 2019) features the conclusion of the 800 years of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land. The Editorial is dedicated to a reflection on the Pan-Amazon Synod and its significance to the Church, as seen within a Franciscan perspective. The main paper regards the Origins of Franciscan Presence on the Island of Cyprus, which is part and parcel of the Custody of the Holy Land. The review also concludes the series of papers dedicated to the celebration of the 800 years of Franciscan presence and of Francis’ visit to the East in 1219. Then follow two presentations of two Congresses celebrated in October 2019, namely the annual Congress of the International Society of Franciscan Studies in Assisi, and the Congress concluding the 800 year celebrations in the Holy Land, with a reference to a recent publication on the same themes that have been presented during this centenary year.

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Spirit + Life No. 129: July – September 2019

SPIRIT + LIFE

July – September 2019

Spirit + Life 129

Issue 129 of Spirit + Life is now online. The main contribution in this Franciscan culture review is dedicated to the figure of Father Alfons Marija Camilleri OFM (1910-1994) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his death on 16 August 1994. Father Alfons was one of the most distinguished Franciscans of the Maltese OFM Province. Minister Provincial for two terms, and three times Visitator General to important Provinces of the Order, he is remembered for his courage and dedication to the values of Franciscan life. The study is published after thorough consultation in the archives of the Maltese OFM Province, and of two autobiographical manuscripts of Father Alfons. The celebrations of the 800 anniversary of the arrival of Saint Francis in the Holy Land are also the object of the third part of a study that will be presented during this current year, this time focusing on the Franciscan Sources. Lastly, a study by a Franciscan young student in Jerusalem on the true nature of the mission of Saint Francis among the Muslims brings some interesting insights on the motives that prompted the Poverello to undertake his journey to Egypt in 1219.

 

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Spirit + Life No. 128: April – June 2019

SPIRIT + LIFE

April – June 2019

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This issue of the Franciscan Culture Review “Spirit+Life” includes a translation of a study on the Franciscan theologians and preachers who spread the cult of Saint Joseph during the period from the 13th to the 15th century. The original version is found in the Franciscan Review “Miscellanea Francescana”. It shows the importance of the Franciscan contribution to spread devotion to Saint Joseph, particularly in the writings of Saint Bonaventure, Peter John Olivi, Ubertino da Casale, Saint Bernardine of Siena and Blessed Berardino da Feltre. The Review also features the second part of a study on The Franciscan Presence in the Holy Land on the occasion of the 800 years since Saint Francis came to Acre and Damietta. The last paper is a research carried out at the Archives of the Holy Land Custody on the figure of a Maltese lay brother who worked in the Holy Land during the first half of the 20th century, namely Fra Elija Grech from the village of Mellieħa, and who was sacristan in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. The paper also recounts the events that unfolded on 4 April 1901, when a group of Greek Orthodox monks attacked the Franciscan friars in the courtyard of the Basilica.

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Spirit + Life No. 127: January – March 2019

SPIRIT + LIFE

January – March 2019

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The Franciscan Cultural Review Spirit+Life 127 (January – March 2019) features the translation of the second part of a study on Brother Bernardo di Quintavalle, the first companion of Saint Francis, by Bernardo Commodi OFMConv. Noel Muscat OFM presents the first part of a paper dedicated to the Origins of the Franciscan Presence in the Holy Land. This paper commemorates the 800 Years of the Arrival of Saint Francis in Acre and in Egypt during the Fifth Crusade, and his encounter with Sultan Al-Malek Al-Kamel. A summary translation of a paper by Archbishop Felice Accrocca on Bishop Guido I and Saint Francis provides new insights upon the role of the Assisi bishop during the period of “conversion” of the young Francis. The editorial is dedicated to the theme “Dialogue or Evangelisation”, in the light of the commemoration of the encounter of Francis with the Sultan, and also as a result of the recent visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates, and its importance in inter-religious dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

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NEW BOOK: Melita Illyrica and Melita Africana: The Islands of Saint Paul

 

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NOEL MUSCAT ofm – SANDRO TOMAŠEVIĆ ofm, Melita Illyrica and Melita Africana. The Islands of Saint Paul, Foreword by Chev. Prof. Horatio C.R. Vella, published in collaboration with the Commissariat of the Holy Land,  Malta, 2018, pp. 152, ISBN: 978-99957-1-395-9.

The famous story of Paul’s shipwreck on Melíte is the pride of two islands having similar names, namely Mljet in the Adriatic, off the Dalmatian coast of Dubrovnik (Mélita Illyrica), and Malta in the centre of the Mediterranean, some 80 km. to the south of Sicily (Mélita Africana). Which was the island that welcomed Paul and was evangelised by the Apostle of the Gentiles? Which of the two was the island on which Paul was shipwrecked?

Biblical exegesis has always pointed to Malta as the most probable spot of the shipwreck. But the traditions of Mljet as the island of St. Paul have never ceased to be defended by proud Croatians like the Benedictine monk Ignjat Đurđević, who found staunch opposition from the Maltese Catholic tradition upheld by the Knights of the Order of St. John.

This study is the result of the fraternal initiative of two Franciscan friars, one Croatian, the other one Maltese, who together have visited and studied these islands, and whose close collaboration as a writer and photographer has produced these pages. This is no scholarly work of Biblical exegesis or historical erudition. It is simply the work of two Franciscan brothers and friends, who love their respective countries: the lush green forests of the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and the barren sun-drenched rocky cliffs of Malta, set against the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea and sky.

Noel Muscat was born in Malta in 1957. He joined the Order of Friars Minor in Malta in 1976, and became a priest in 1984.
Sandro Tomašević was born in Croatia in 1984. He joined the Order of Friars Minor in the Province of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Croatia in 2006, and was ordained priest in 2013.

The book is available from the following address:

 

Commissariat of the Holy Land

Franciscan Friars

291, Saint Paul Street

Valletta VLT 1213 – Malta

 

Or by sending an email directly to the authors:

muscatnoel@yahoo.co.uk

frasandro@gmail.com

 

A limited number of copies has been printed. The book will be available in digital form during 2019.