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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The year 1221 has been characterised by two important Franciscan historical commemorations, namely the approval of the Earlier Rule, or “Regula non Bullata”, and the promulgation of the first Rule for Franciscan Penitents, known as the “Memoriale Propositi”. In this issue of Spirit+Life we shall speak about this form of life of the “Ordo Pœnitentium,” which later on would be known as the Third Order of Saint Francis, nowadays the Secular Franciscan Order. Br. Anthony Carrozzo offers us a reflection on “The Virtuous Life Lived in Fraternity,” whereas Br. Kevin Tortorelli writes about “Saint Bonaventure’s Theology of History.” We thank both our Franciscan brother scholars for their contribution and collaboration. This year also marks the 700 years since the death of the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri, to whom the 49th Congress of the International Society of Franciscan Studies has been dedicated in Assisi on 14-16 October. The editorial features the theme of our Franciscan identity as outlined during the General OFM Chapter celebrated last July in Rome.
The summer issue of Spirit+Life features a paper commemorating the 800 years of the death of Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers. The close bond between the Friars Preachers (Dominicans) and the Friars Minor (Franciscans) goes back to the two founders. The first biographies of the two saints have many common aspects, as they try to portray these two founders of the two great Mendicant Orders as complementary in the realisation of the Gospel ideal they embraced. A paper by Anthony Carrozzo OFM is entitled The Cathedral of the Heart. The Lived Christology of St. Bonaventure. It comes from the pen of an expert veteran Franciscan scholar, who has kindly offered to contribute to our aim at offering this review of Franciscan culture for the benefit of ongoing formation in our lives. Lastly, the review is offering a short presentation and translation of some introductory texts of the Chronicle of Nicholas Glassberger (early 16thcentury), a less-known later source for the early history of the Franciscan Order.
Review of Franciscan Culture
The celebration of the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor in July 2021 calls for a moment of reflection on the vision of our Order and its faithfulness to its original charism. This issue is dedicated especially to such a reflection, which aims simply at providing some ideas that are open to discussion and which also call for a renewed effort on the part of all the brothers. The review also features two translations of sermons that Saint Bonaventure delivered on the feast of Pentecost, which is also intimately linked with the celebration of the general chapters in our Order. Another paper features a short presentation of the travels that Francis made during his life, in Italy and also in other regions, and which are documented in the Sources for his life.
Review of Franciscan Culture
The presence of Fr. Noel Muscat ofm, editor of this Review of Franciscan Culture, in the friary of Santa Marija ta’ Ġesù in Valletta, Malta, as archivist and librarian, is an asset for the inclusion of historical information regarding the Franciscan presence in Malta. In this issue a paper is dedicated to the figure of an 18th century Maltese Franciscan, Fr. Giovanni Antonio Mercieca who, in 1731, wrote an interesting Chronicle on the history of the first two friaries of the Franciscan Observance in Malta, both dedicated to Santa Maria di Gesù, in the old capital of Rabat-Mdina (Città Notabile) and in the city of Valletta built by the Knights of St. John during the 16th century. The Chronicle covers more than 250 years of history, and is a precious source of information for the historical and artistic legacy of the Franciscan Friars Minor in Malta. Another short paper is dedicated to a painting of St. Blaise, that used to hang in the Franciscan church of Valletta, and is now in the same friary, and its link with the community of merchants from the maritime republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik in Croatia) of which St. Blaise is the patron saint. These Dalmatian merchants traded with Malta under the Order of St. John. In the study of Franciscan Sources there is a presentation on the figure of St. Francis in the Legenda aurea by Jacopo de Voragine. Lastly we present a translation of a paper by Roberto Rusconi on the Formulation of the Minoritic Rules during the first quarter of the 13th century. This paper is also presented because this year we commemorate the 800 years of the Regula non bullata (1221).