The Witness of the “Anonymous of Perugia,” John of Perugia (1240-1241) - 406 

The Witness of the "Anonymous of Perugia," John of Perugia

The enigmatic author of these early recollections of the primitive fraternity is generally agreed to be John of Perugia, a companion of Brother Giles, and one of the earliest companions of Saint Francis. Although there is still discussion concerning the date of the composition of this work, most historians maintain that it was written sometime between 1240 and 1241 and forms a basis for the later Legend of the Three Companions. This early text, then, provides us with a most important source concerned with the origins of the Poor Ladies.a

When they could not find lodging with priests, they would inquire who in that locality was a good and God-fearing person with whom they could be more suitably welcomed. After a while, the Lord inspired one such God-fearing person in each of the cities and towns they were prepared to visit to prepare a lodging for them, until, after a while, they built their own dwellings in the cities and towns.

The Lord gave the brothers the words and spirit suited to the time, to speak with incisive words, penetrating the hearts of many, but especially the young more than the elderly. Those who abandoned mother and father, and all their possessions, put on the habit of the holy religion. At that time and particularly in that religion, the word of the Lord in the Gospel was fulfilled: Do not suppose that my mission on earth is to spread peace. My mission is to spread not peace, but division. I have come to set a man at odds with his father and a daughter with her mother. Those whom the brothers accepted, they brought to the blessed Francis to invest them.

In the same way, many women, virgins and those without husbands, hearing their preaching, would come to them with contrite hearts, saying: "And we, what are we to do? We cannot




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 406