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).
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.
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.
SPIRIT + LIFE
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.
2020 – TAU Franciscan Communications
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