General Introduction - 14 

In 1239, the General Chapter of Rome, in the presence of Gregory IX, deposed Elias and in his place elected an elderly brother, Albert of Pisa.14 When Albert died a few months later, Haymo of Faversham succeeded him. While Haymo was General Minister, the internal structures of the Order changed profoundly. Lay brothers were excluded from positions of responsibility such as local, provincial or general ministers, and were relegated to more domestic ones. Lay people were hired as servants for more menial tasks. And a monastic vocabulary became more commonplace, as the brothers introduced concepts such as "conventual mass," "regular silence," and adopted an approach to daily life that had more in common with monasticism.15 The simplicity of Francis's Gospel vision, therefore, was slowly being replaced by a more organized and regulated way of life.

Returning to the Spirit of the Founder

Between 1240 and 1241, the first work of this second volume appeared, The Beginning or The Founding of the Order and The Deeds of Those Lesser Brothers Who were The First Companions of Blessed Francis in Religion.The work became more popularly called The Anonymous of Perugia, because its author never identifies himself. "Servants of the Lord," he states initially, "should not be ignorant of the lives and teachings of saints through which they can come to God." This opening statement immediately alluded to a serious problem: the brothers of the second generation did not have the same intimate experience of Francis as that of the primitive fraternity. The chronicles of Thomas of Eccleston and Jordan of Giano indicate that the Lesser Brothers had spread beyond the Italian peninsula to England, France, Spain, and Germany.16 At the same time, the number of brothers in Syria, Cyprus, and Romania was growing, as was the number of brothers in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other sites in the Holy Land.17 In 1245, John of Piancarpino set out for the Mongul Empire. Inspiring as The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano might be, it did not capture the excitement experienced by those first Lesser Brothers and, therefore, failed to express the fullness of the original spirit.

The aging brothers of the primitive fraternity might well have become uncomfortable with the uncontrollable growth and wary of the many organizational changes they were witnessing because of the expanding horizons of the Order. The death in 1241 of Sylvester, one of Francis's earliest followers, could have intensified their concerns and inspired some of the first followers to retell their stories. John of Perugia, a companion of Giles, Francis's third companion, seems to have been the chosen amanuensis. "For the honor of God and the edification of readers and listeners," he writes, "I, who saw their deeds, listened to their words, and also became their disciple, have compiled and recounted, as the Lord inspired me, some deeds of our most blessed father Francis and of a few of the brothers who lived at the beginning of the religion."18 Sixty percent of The Anonymous of Perugia is new information and indicates sources close to the events. John's presentation is non-polemical; it conveys more of an earnest desire to communicate the first days of the frater




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 14