Dominican Hagiography and Sermons - 786 

Gerard de Frachet (1257-60)

Gerard de Frachet [de Fracheto] was born near Limoges c. 1205 and took the Dominican habit in Paris in 1225. Over the years he served in a variety of positions of responsibility in his Order, attaining the post of prior provincial of Provençe from 1251 to 1259. While he was serving in that office, the Master General, Humbert of Romans, asked him to compile a book of edifying anecdotes about the early brothers of the Order, which Gerard entitled the Lives of the Brethren (Vitae fratrum). The material Gerard drew upon for this work had been submitted by local superiors in response to a request of the general chapter of 1256. This collection, from which the following selection is taken, provides an invaluable portrait of Dominican life during the first generation. Gerard also wrote a number of chronicles later in his life. He died at Limoges in 1271.a The following story from The Lives of the Brethren places the first meeting of Dominic and Francis in Rome at the time of the Fourth Lateran Council.

A Lesser Brother, who was both a religious and trustworthy man, and who for a long time was a companion of blessed Francis, told the following incident to some brothers, one of whom wrote it down for the Master of our Order. When Saint Dominic was at Rome and was urging God and the Lord Pope to confirm his Order,b he had a vision one night when he was at his customary prayers. It seemed to him that he saw our Lord Jesus Christ standing in the air, brandishing three lances against the earth. His Virgin Mother, falling on her knees, asked him to temper justice with mercy and to show pity on those whom He had redeemed.

Her Son said to her: "You see, do you not, how great are the injuries done to me? My justice will not allow such evils to go unpunished." Then his Mother said: "You who know all things, know this: there is a way by which you will lead those people back to you. I have a faithful servant whom you will send into the world to proclaim your word. The people will be converted and will seek you, the Savior of all. I will also give him another servant to work as a fellow laborer in the same way." Then the Son said to his Mother: "Behold, I am now appeased and I accept your offer; nevertheless show me the one whom you wish to destine for such an office." Then the Lady Mother offered blessed Dominic to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said to her: "He will carry out well and zealously what you have said." She offered Saint Francis also, and the Savior commended him in a similar manner.

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Fontes Franciscani, p.


Frater quidam Minor, religiosus et fide dignus, qui socius beati Francisci multo tempore fuit, narravit fratribus quibusdam, quorum unus hoc magistro ordinis scripsit, quod, cum esset Romae beatus Dominicus et pro ordinis confirmatione apud Deum et apud dominum Papam instaret, quadam nocte orans, more solito, vidit in visione, ut sibi videbatur, Dominum Iesum Christum stantem in aere et tres lanceas contra mundum vibrantem. Cui ad genua procidens Virgo Mater rogabat, ut misericors his, quos redemerat, fieret et iustitiam misericordia temperaret.

Ad quam Filius aiebat: "Nonne vides, quantae iniuriae mihi fiunt? iustitia mea mala tanta non patitur impunita." Tunc dixit Mater: "Sicut tu scis, qui omnia nosti; haec est via, per quam eos ad te reduces. Habeo unum servum fidelem, quem mittes in mundum, ut verba tua annuntiet, et convertentur et te quaerent omnium Salvatorem. Alium etiam servum ei dabo in adiutorem, qui similiter operetur." Tunc Filius inquit Matri: "Ecce, placatus suscepi faciem tuam; verumtamen ostende mihi, quos vis ad tantum officium destinare." Tunc Domina Mater beatum Dominicum offerebat Domino Iesu Christo. Cui Dominus: "Bene et studiose faciet quae dixisti." Obtulit et beatum Franciscum, et hunc similiter Salvator commendavit.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 786