New Life of St. Francis for those in formation

We are posting a Life of Saint Francis of Assisi, written by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm in 2003, in Italian, entitled “Vita di San Francesco d’Assisi”. This on-line publication is a popular biography of the Saint of Assisi, written in the form of notes, with the aim of providing an initial approach to the life of Saint Francis for candidates to the Franciscan life.

In fact, the author, wrote these notes originally for a group of postulants when he was serving for one year as a formator in the Province of Albania. The life is written in such a way as to provide a chronological presentation of the salient moments of the vocational experience of Francis of Assisi, with the help of various quotations taken directly from the Sources for the Life of Saint Francis, particularly “The Life of Saint Francis” by Thomas of Celano and “The Legend of Three Companions”.

In this way candidates to the Franciscan life can read a biography of Saint Francis that leads them on to read and study the Sources in their period of initial formation. This work is simply a first approach to the study of the Sources. Its style is simple and easily readable, and it provides an initial contact with Saint Francis for all those who are not very familiar with his life.

The book is ideal for houses of vocational welcome for candidates to the Franciscan life and maybe also for use during the year of postulancy. Our aim is to provide an English version of this biography in the near future.

Free download here   (Vita di S. Francesco d’Assisi – pdf)

Chronicle of the 24 generals of the order of friars minor in a new english translation


Noel Muscat ofm

The history of the Franciscan Order during its first two centuries of existence has been the subject of intense research and study. The Sources for the Life of Saint Francis are of fundamental importance to understand the historical background in which the Order of Friars Minor was born and developed. Many of these mediaeval documents are now edited, and they have been translated into English and can be read by the general public.

Other less known Sources, however are still awaiting publication. Among these documents we mention two voluminous works that were produced during the latter half of the 14th century, namely the Chronica XXIV Ministrorum Generalium Ordinis fratrum Minorum, by the Franciscan Arnald of Sarrant, from the Province of Aquitaine (written in 1369-1374), and the Liber de Conformitate vitae beati Francisci ad vitam Domini Iesuby the Franciscan Bartholomew of Pisa (written in 1385-1399).

Noel Muscat ofm, member of the Maltese Franciscan Province of St. Paul, and currently residing in the Holy Land, is offering an online contribution to the translation of The Chronicle of the 24 Ministers General by Arnald of Sarrant into English. This is the first time that a complete translation of the Chronicle has been completed. The Chronicle is being posted on-line as part of our endeavour to spread the Franciscan message through green technology, and provide Franciscan texts free of charge to all those who are interested to read them. We believe that, by doing so, we are offering a service to the Franciscan Order, the Church and to the Christian identity of European history.

The Chronicle of the 24 Ministers General presents the history of the Order of Friars Minor from its foundation by Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) to the General Leonard of Giffoni and the beginning of the Western Schism (1378). This translation is the fruit of three years of work, and is based on the Latin critical edition.

The Chronicle was published in Latin by the Franciscan scholars and Quaracchi editors in 1897, in Volume 3 of Analecta Franciscana, and covers 575 pages of text, plus 134 pages of appendixes. Because of its voluminous nature, the entire Chronicle has been translated in 5 sections covering respectively the following historical periods: (1) Saint Francis and the early Franciscan fraternity; (2) The Generals from Brother Elias as vicar (1227) to Saint Bonaventure (1274); (3) The Generals from Jerome of Ascoli (1274) to Michael of Cesena (1328); (4) The Generals from Gerard Eudes (1329) to Leonard of Giffoni (1378); (5) Appendixes to the Chronicle. The translation is enriched by footnotes, and explanations on the various historical events narrated and on the personages of the Chronicle.

The volume has the aim of providing a readable translation, without pretending to be a translation of a scholar of mediaeval Latin. We are aware that other efforts have been made for many years to present a professional translation of the Chronicle, and that it will not be long before an English edition will be published. On our part, as we have already stated, we have tried to present a translation which would be as faithful as possible to the original text, and which, indeed, has been made with the intention of being as professional as possible. It is not possible for us to present this edition in print, because of the limited means at our disposal, but we are confident that, by posting the translation on-line, we are reaching a wide range of interests, as well as being faithful to our Franciscan calling to generously render a service without looking at any material gains.

The effort to place this voluminous work online is the result of the tireless work of Fr. Raymond Camilleri ofm, who took care of the setting of the text, indexes and contents, as well as of Fr. John Abela ofm, who designed the cover. Both friars were instrumental in encouraging me to conclude the translation and publish it on the Internet. To both of them goes my heartfelt gratitude.

We hope that the service we are offering at such an enormous cost of time and personal effort will be of benefit both to students of Franciscan history as well as to those who are qualified to correct its inaccuracies, and who we gratefully thank for their expert advice. The Chronicle of the 24 Generals can be freely downloaded from the Franciscan Studies section of the website.

Free download here (Chronicle of the XXIV Generals of the Order of Friars Minor – pdf)

History of the Franciscan order by Heribert Holzapfel, ofm

Introduction by
Noel Muscat ofm

On the occasion of the feast of St. Francis we are also posting a complete English translation of Heribert Holzapfel’s Handbuch der Geschichte des Franziskanerordens, published in 1909, exactly 101 years ago. This classic of Franciscan History provides a manual for study that is still a milestone in historical research on the Franciscan Order, even though contemporary monographic studies on the theme have certainly come a long way from the traditional model of manuals covering entire centuries. Our aim is that of offering an English translation of the manual, which is the work of two Franciscan friars, Antoine Tibesar and Gervase Brinkmann, in a typed manuscript dated 1942. Holzapfel’s work was published also in Latin with the title Manuale Historiae Ordinis Fratrum Minorum in the same year 1909.

We are grateful for the kindness of Fr. Maximilian Wagner OFM, who in 2009 was still Minister Provincial of the Franciscan OFM Province of Bavaria, now incorporated with the other German provinces into the one OFM Province of St. Elizabeth, Germany, and who gave us permission to post this English translation on our website.


Free download here (History of the Franciscan Order by Heribert Holzapfel OFM – pdf)

In defence of the Portiuncula Indulgence

“In Defence of the Portiuncula Indulgence” is an English translation of the Latin original medieval sources for the Portiuncula Indulgence, which Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) requested from Pope Honorius III in 1216 for the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels, known as the Portiuncula, close to Assisi. The most important source among these documents is the “Tractatus de Indulgentia Portiunculae” by Brother Francis Bartholi of Assisi, composed in 1334-1335 in defence of the Indulgence against its detractors. Hence the title “In Defence of the Portiuncula Indulgence”.

The author, Brother Noel Muscat ofm, is a member of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor. He was born in Malta in 1957 and entered the Order in 1976. He studied Franciscan Spirituality at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome and is author of various publications. He currently resides in Jerusalem, where he is at the service of the Holy Land Custody.

In Defence of the Portiuncula Indulgence (pdf)

New translation by Noel Muscat OFM




For the occasion of the solemnity of St. Francis we are presenting an on-line Italian translation in PDF edition of a section of the voluminous work of Bartolomeo da Pisa, known as “De Confirmitate Vitae Beati Francisci ad Vitam Domini Iesu” (Book of Conformities of the Life of Saint Francis to the Life of the Lord Jesus). The section deals mainly with the companions of St. Francis and the lives of many holy friars living in the various provinces of the Franciscan Order during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Bartolomeo da Pisa was born at Rinonico, close to Pisa, around 1335. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 15 October 1352. Before 1373 he had gained the academic title of bachelor in Pisa, and became “lector” in various centres of study in the Order, particularly in Padua and Florence. In 1373 the General Chapter of Toulouse sent him to Cambridge to acquire the title of master in sacred theology, but he was unable to go to England because of the Hundred Years’ War. After concluding his studies in Bologna, Bartolomeo was given the title of master by Pope Gregory XI, who addressed a bulla from Avignon on 27 April 1375.
On 2 August 1399 Bartolomeo presented his voluminous masterpiece, entitled “De Conformitate Vitae Beati Francisci ad Vitam Domini Iesu” to the General Chapter of the Order in Assisi, which was approved by the same general assembly. “De Conformitate” is a vast compilation, in which Bartolomeo lists 40 double “conformities” between the life of Jesus Christ and that of St. Francis. The idea of “conformities” was already present in the early Franciscan writers, but nowhere has it been developed in such an articulate and condensed manner. The idea underlying “De Conformitate” was expressed as a need to see how St. Francis and his companions followed and imitated Christ. During the period of the first generation of friars, and particularly in those Sources which depend upon the “Legenda Maior” of St. Bonaventure and which follow it chronologically, the notion of conformity became a certainty that, among all saints, St. Francis was unique in his closeness to Christ, in such a way that he became, if not identical, but certainly confomed to Him.
We have chosen to translate the eighth fruit and conformity, entitled “Iesum coetus prosequitur – Franciscus fecundatur” (Jesus followed by his disciples – Francis who generates fruitfully), because of the importance that it has in this compilation on the companions of St. Francis and on the first generations of Friars Minor spread out in various provinces of the Order.

Noel Muscat is a Friar Minor of the Franciscan Province of St. Paul the Apostle, Malta. He was born in Malta in 1957, and has been in service to the Custody of the Holy Land since 2004. He lectures Spiritual Theology and Franciscan History in Jerusalem, and has published texts of Franciscan sources and studies in Maltese, English and Italian, many of which can be freely downloaded on the website He has also presented an on-line English translation of the Chronicle of the 24 Ministers General of the Order of Friars Minor. Bartolomeo da Pisa’s translation will also be shortly available in an E-book format.


Per l’occasione della festa di S. Francesco presentiamo una traduzione italiana on-line in formato PDF di una parte dell’opera voluminosa di Bartolomeo da Pisa, “De Confirmitate Vitae Beati Francisci as Vitam Domini Iesu” (Libro delle Conformità della Vita del Beato Francesco alla Vita del Signore Gesu). La sezione riguarda principalmente i compagni di S. Francesco e le vite di molti santi frati che hanno vissuto nelle varie province dell’Ordine Francescano durante i secoli 13 e 14.

Bartolomeo da Pisa nacque a Rinonico, presso Pisa, verso il 1335 ed entrò nell’Ordine dei frati Minori a Pisa il 15 ottobre 1352. Prima del 1373 aveva conseguito il titolo accademico di baccelliere a Pisa, e divenne “lector” nei vari centri di studio dell’Ordine, particolarmente a Padova e a Firenze. Nel 1373 fu mandato dal capitolo generale di Tolosa a Cambridge, per conseguire il titolo di “magister” in teologia, ma a causa della Guerra dei Cento Anni non potè andare in Inghilterra. Dopo aver concluso i suoi studi a Bologna, Bartolomeo conseguì il titolo di “magister” da Papa Gregorio XI, che gli indirizzò una bolla da Avignone il 27 aprile 1375.
Il 2 agosto 1399 Bartolomeo presentò al capitolo generale dei frati Minori, radunato ad Assisi, il suo capolavoro voluminoso, intitolato “De Conformitate Vitae Beati Francisci ad Vitam Domini Iesu”. Il volume fu approvato dallo stesso capitolo di Assisi. Il “De Conformitate” è una vasta compilazione, nella quale Bartolomeo da Pisa elenca 40 doppie conformità tra la vita di Gesù Cristo e quella di San Francesco, le quali erano già presenti negli scritti dei primi Francescani, ma che qui vengono sviluppati in modo compendioso e articolato. L’idea base nella “De Conformitate” fu espressa come un bisogno di sequela e imitazione di Cristo da parte di San Francesco e dei suoi compagni. Durante il tempo della prima generazione francescana, e particolarmente nelle fonti francescane che dipendono, in un certo senso, dalla “Legenda Maior” di San Bonaventura, e la seguono in ordine cronologico, la nozione di conformità divenne una certezza che, tra tutti i santi, San Francesco era unico nel suo essere vicino a Cristo in modo tale che divenne, se non identico, ma certamente conforme a lui.
Abbiamo scelto di tradurre l’ottavo frutto e conformità del “De Conformitate”, intitolato “Iesum coetus prosequitur – Franciscus fecundatur” (Gesù seguito dai discepoli – Francesco che genera) per l’importanza che investe nella compilazione sui primi compagni di San Francesco e sulle prime generazioni di frati Minori sparsi nelle diverse province dell’Ordine.

Noel Muscat, Frate Minore della Provincia Francescana di S. Paolo Apostolo di Malta, nato a Malta nel 1957, è in servizio della Custodia di Terra Santa dal 2004. Insegna teologia spirituale e storia francescana a Gerusalemme, e ha pubblicato testi di fonti e studi francescani in Maltese, Inglese e Italiano, tra i quali una traduzione inglese della Cronaca dei 24 Ministri Generali. Le sue pubblicazioni recenti sono reperibili on-line sul sito e alcune anche in formato E-book.


Il-Passjoni ta’ Kristu fl-Ispiritwalità Franġiskana


Noel Muscat ofm

Il-moviment Franġiskan, mibdi minn San Franġisk t’Assisi (1182-1226), ta kontribut kbir lill-Knisja mis-seklu 13 ‘il quddiem. Imwieled flimkien mal-moviment l-ieħor ta’ San Duminku Guzman (1170-1221), fundatur ta’ l-Ordni tal-Predikaturi, l-Ordni tal-Minuri kien strumentali fit-tixrid tal-messaġġ evanġeliku fil-Knisja bil-għatx għar-riforma taż-żmien tal-Konċilju Lateran IV (1215).

Il-Passjoni ta’ Kristu fl-Ispiritwalità Franġiskana (pdf)

Spiritwalità ta’ Madre Margherita


Noel Muscat OFM

Il-kariżma tal-ħajja ikkonsagrata għandha ħafna forom ta’ espressjoni. Hi tadatta ruħha għall-ispiritwalità Kristjana fid-diversi kurrenti storiċi u soċjoloġiċi li fihom tiġi inkarnata. Madre Margherita twieldet f’mument storiku preċiż, li kien is-seklu 19, ikkaratterizzat minn spiritwalità qawwija ta’ kult lejn il-Qalb ta’ Ġesù.

Spiritwalità ta’ Madre Margherita (pdf)

The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper of 1 Corinthians 11
in Saint Francis’ Letter to the Entire Order 
Noel Muscat OFM

In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Paul presents the oldest account of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist. Written in Ephesus in 57 AD, 1 Corinthians is older than the Synoptic Gospels, and therefore provides us with the first historical account of what Paul calls “the Lord’s supper.”

The Lord’s Supper (pdf)