The Witness of Jacques de Vitry (1216) - 428 

I found one consolation in those parts, nevertheless: many men and women, rich and worldly, after renouncing everything for Christ, fled the world. They are called Lesser Brothers and Lesser Sisters. They are held in great esteem by the Lord Pope and the cardinals. They do not occupy themselves with temporal affairs, but work each day with great desire and enthusiastic zeal to capture those souls that were perishing from the vanities of the world and to bring them along with them. They have already borne much fruit through the grace of God, and have converted many, so that whoever hears them says "Come" Lk 9:23 Rv 22:17 and one circle of hearers draws another.

They live according to the form of the primitive Church of which it is written: "The multitude of believers was of one heart and one soul...."a They go into the cities and villages during the day, so that they convert others, giving themselves to active work; but they return to their hermitages or solitary places at night, employing themselves in contemplation.

The women live near the cities in various hospices.b They accept nothing, but live from the work of their hands. In fact, they are very much offended and disturbed because they are honored by the clergy and laity more than they deserve.

The men of this Order, with much profit, come together once a year in a determined place to rejoice together in the Lord and to eat together. They draw up and promulgate their holy statutes with the advice of good men and have them confirmed by the Lord Pope. After this they disperse for an entire year throughout Lombardy, Tuscany, Apulia, and Sicily.




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 428