What Did The “Poverello” Really Say?

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On the Feast of St. Francis, Patron of Italy, Pope Francis went to Assisi.

During one talk he clarified that the “peace” with which St. Francis is often associated is “not something saccharine“.

To the dismay of LCWR keynote speakers everywhere, neither is peace “a kind of pantheistic harmony with forces of the cosmos”.

True peace, in fact, begins with the Cross: “It is the peace of Christ, which is born of the greatest love of all, the love of the cross. It is the peace which the Risen Jesus gave to his disciples when he stood in their midst and said: “Peace be with you!”, and in saying this, he showed them his wounded hands and his pierced side (cf. Jn 20:19-20).”

All sorts of strange things are said about Francis (both of them, but I have here in mind the Saint).  For example, some think that it is more authentically Franciscan to celebrated Holy Mass wearing a burlap bag and holding a wooden cup.  What Did il Poverello Really Say?  From the Opuscula Omnia Sancti Francisci Assisiensis

Epistola ad custodes

To all the custodians of the Friars Minor to whom this letter shall come, Brother Francis, your servant and little one in the Lord God, greetings with new signs of heaven and earth which are great and most excellent before God and are considered least of all by many religious and by other men.

I beg you more than if it were a question of myself that, when it is becoming and you will deem it convenient, you humbly beseech the clerics to venerate above all the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Name and written words which sanctify the body. They ought to hold the chalices, corporals, ornaments of the altar, and all that pertain to the Sacrifice as precious. And if the most holy Body of the Lord is left very poorly in any place, let It be moved by them to a precious place, according to the command of the Church and let It be carried with great veneration and administered to others with discretion. The Names also and written words of the Lord, In whatever unclean place they may be found, let them be collected, and then they must be put in a proper place. And in every time you preach,admonish the people about penance and that no one can be saved except he that receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord. And whenever It is being sacrificed by the priest on the altar and It is being carried to any place, let all the people give praise, honor, and glory to the Lord God Living and True on their bended knees. And let His praise be announced and preached to all peoples so that at every hour and when the bells are rung praise and thanks shall always be given to the Almighty God by all the people through the whole earth.

And whoever of my brothers custodians shall receive this writing, let them copy it and keep it with them and cause it to be copied for the brothers who have the office of preaching and the care of brothers, and let them preach all those things that are contained in this writing to the end: let them know they have the blessing of the Lord God and mine. And let these be for them true and holy obedience.

And I think we all remember St. Francis’ approach to ecumenical dialogue.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Woody79 says:

    “…and that no one can be saved except he that receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord.” I like that part the best!

  2. votefassino24 says:

    Please, refresh us on Francis’ approach to ecumenical dialogue anyway!

  3. McCall1981 says:

    I certainly hope Pope Francis turns out to be more like the real St. Francis, and less like the modern caricature of him.

  4. Lori Pieper says:


    Coincidentally, I blogged about this very thing yesterday, and hope to continue today (and finish probably tomorrow).


    The material is from a talk I gave recently at the City University of New York (CUNY) as part of a conference on the Medieval Mendicants, Eucharist and Mission.

  5. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, today, his feastday, is an excellent day to give a copy of my biography of St. Francis (previously advertized on Fr. Z’s right side bar) as a gift. Find it HERE.

    And if the recipient does not care about the academic second half of the book, an inexpensive paperback version with just the life (and a new introduction) is now available for under $10: HERE

    –Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.

    [I’ll help you out with that promotion by adding the link and image to the top entry! Let’s get this book into more hands… or onto more Kindles!]

  6. SpittleFleckedNutty says:

    The Pope’s words today on celibacy were beautiful. Celibacy is not a ‘no’ to marriage, it is a ‘yes’ to Christ, a total yes.

  7. Palladio says:

    A bargain at any price, Father Augustine.

    Of course they were beautiful words, SpittleFleckedNutty, he’s a beautiful man. The vast majority of what I have read, heard, and seen from His Holiness is beautiful.

  8. Traductora says:

    Whatever the Pope was holding was what the Franciscans gave him…remember poor BXVI at Assisi – or maybe it was a World Youth Day – dressed in what looked like a clown costume vestment.

    I think Pope Francis actually did what the lefty loonies always say, he “spoke truth to power.” The Franciscans need to get back to what Our Lord told St Francis to do. The modern Franciscan orders have forgotten that they evangelized what is now the United States. There were both Dominicans and Jesuits here (I live in the Spanish Borderlands). Some were martyred, some did well, but the Franciscans were finally the ones who spread the Gospel among the native peoples. They need to get back to that.

  9. lana says:

    @SpittleFlecked, is there a link?

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I turned to the comments with something like votefassino24’s request in mind – I didn’t clearly remember what I had read about “St. Francis’ approach to ecumenical dialogue.” So, many thanks to Lori Pieper, who is supplying more than I knew there was to ask for!

  11. Lori Pieper says:

    @Venerator Sti Lot, you’re welcome!

    I didn’t publish as much of the rest as I would have liked to today. I have to revise as I go along. Things just didn’t go well today in general. It will probably take 4 posts instead of 3. But I’ll get it done.

  12. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Lori Pieper,

    Thank you! “The more, the merrier!” (A fifth post full of footnote-stuff would be fine, too, though the references ‘in-text’ seem nice and clear.)

  13. Dear Fr. Z, thanks for the kindness.

    –AT op

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Lori Pieper,

    It may be peculiarly my problem (for who knows what reason), but Firefox will not follow your links anymore! (The posts (and more) are still available via the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive due to their most recent ‘crawl’, but that cannot bring me further up-to-date than 5 October.)

Comments are closed.