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)