General Introduction - 15 

nity. His choice to remain anonymous, that is, to avoid identifying himself, is understandable. His role was simply to articulate the remembrances of the elders, the first followers.

It is difficult to determine the impact of The Anonymous of Perugia. How much was the work circulated? Did it awaken among the brothers the realization that there was more to know about Francis? Did it present Francis as simply primus inter pares, that is, as the central figure of a much larger movement and thus diminish his role as founder? The answers to these and similar questions remain hidden. What has emerged, however, is the influence of The Anonymous of Perugia on the second text of this volume, a text known as The Legend of the Three Companions. The Legend of the Three Companions borrows from, adds to, and refines The Anonymous of Perugia.

The Request of Crescentius, New Information, and Thomas of Celano

Before noting the place of The Legend of the Three Companions in the development of these texts, however, it is helpful to return to the history of the Lesser Brothers. For while John of Perugia was collecting and recording the stories of Francis's early followers, the tensions continued to mount. In 1241 the "Chapter of Definitors," a new entity established by the Chapter of Rome in 1239, requested that commissions be appointed in each province to settle doubtful points of the Rule.19 Thomas of Eccleston writes of such a commission in the English province.20 Another was established in France. Its members were well-known masters of the University of Paris who produced the Exposition of the Four Masters on the Rule of the Lesser Brothers.21 In it they appealed to the intention of Francis as expressed in his Testament, a document they quote several times. However, neither the commissions nor the Exposition were successful in resolving new questions, especially those concerning poverty. Thus, once again, the brothers turned to Rome: a resolution was sought from Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254). Before a response could be given, however, the leadership of the Order once again changed hands.

Four years after his election as General Minister, Haymo died. He was succeeded in 1244 by Crescentius of Iesi whose zeal Thomas of Eccleston described as "kindled by charity, informed by learning, and strengthened by perseverance."22 According to the Chronicle of the Twenty-four Generals, during that Chapter of Genoa, Crescentius "directed all the brothers to send him in writing whatever they could truly recall about the life, miracles, and prodigies of blessed Francis."23 What was Crescentius's motivation? Faced with increasing tensions among the brothers, did he hope that remembrance of Francis might heal existing divisions? Or more likely, did he simply wish to learn of more testimonials to the holiness and intercessory power of the founder of his Order whose ministries he wished to promote?24 In any case, two highly disputed texts owe their origin to Crescentius's directive, The Legend of the Three Companions and The Assisi Compilation. In the first text, the contributors identify themselves as Brothers Leo, Angelo, and Rufino; while, in the second, they repeatedly use the formula "we who were with him."




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 15