The Anonymous of Perugia - 32 

This shift of emphasis from the saint, as found in the earlier works of Thomas of Celano and Julian of Speyer, to the fraternity focuses attention on the new material found in the work. Sixty percent of the material is new, while the remaining forty percent reflects The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano. New details provide particulars to incidents described by Thomas, e.g., the role of Bishop Guido of Assisi in guiding Francis and his brothers, names of some of the brothers who joined after Bernard, Peter, and Giles, the role of Cardinal John of Saint Paul, and the growing pains of the brothers as they first encountered hostility. Knowledge of such details could only have come from those involved in the events and support the claim of the author: "I, who saw their deeds, listened to their words, and also became their disciple, have compiled and recounted . . . some [of these] deeds." Since the text conveys a sense of intimacy or familiarity and, as such, a non-polemical description of the Franciscan ideals, DiFonzo and later Beguin focused their attention on the friary of San Francesco al Prato where Papebroch had discovered the manuscript. Since Brother Giles had spent considerable time and died there in 1262, it seemed logical to both DiFonzo and Beguin that The Anonymous of Perugia was in someway associated with him. Both men determined that its author was John of Perugia (+c. 1270), a companion of Brother Giles and an acquaintance of Brother Bernard of Quintavalle.9

Two events mentioned by the author suggest dates within which he wrote these reminiscences: the death of Sylvester, and the continuing presence of Hugolino who, at that time, was Pope Gregory IX. Since Sylvester did not die until March 4, 1240, and Gregory IX until August 22, 1241, it is reasonable to maintain that the work was written within that period.10


  1. Daniel Papebroch or Papenbroch (1628-1714) was a member of a small group of Jesuits dedicated to the critical study and publication of the lives of the saints. Founded in the early 1600’s by Leribert Rosweyde (1569-1629), the group’s aims and methods were refined by Jean Bolland, S.J., (1596-1665) who began publishing the Acta Santorum. Because of his research, discovery of ancient manuscripts, and sound judgment, Papebroch became one of the most energetic, dedicated Bollandists, as they were called.
  2. Cf. Acta Sanctorum, April III (Vita Beati Aegidii, April 23) introduction by Daniel Papebroch [Antwerp: 1675]: 219, nn. 2, 5-6; Cornelius Suyskens, Commentarius praevius, in Acta Sanctorum, October II (Vita Sancti Francisci, October 4) [Antwerp, 1768]: 549ab, nn.19-20; 562a, n. 88; Franciscus Van Ortroy "La Leggenda Latina di S. Francesco secondo l’Anonimo Perugino," Miscellanea Franciscana 9 (1902): 33-48. Another copy of the text had been discovered in 1765, copied by Stefano Rinaldi, in 1808, and preserved in the Friary of Dodici Apostoli in Rome. Lorenzo Di Fonzo judged this the best copy of the work and used it as the basis of his critical edition in 1972. The original was lost.
  3. Lorenzo Di Fonzo, "L’Anonimo Perugino Tra Le Fonti Francescane del Secolo XIII: Rapporti Letterari e Testo Critico," Miscellanea Franciscana 72 (1972): 117-483.
  4. Pierre Beguin, L’Anonyme de Pérouse. Un Témoin de La Fraternité Franciscaine Primitive Confronté aux Autres Sources Contemporaines (Paris: éditions Franciscaines, 1979).
  5. Second Vatican Council, Perfectae Caritatis 2.
  6. AP 19. This formula provides the inspiration of the study of Théophile Desbonnets, From Intuition to Institution: The Franciscans, trans. Paul Duggan and Jerry DuCharme (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1988).
  7. Although the word fraternitas [fraternity/brotherhood] never appears in the work, frater [brother] appears 118 times, the most used noun in the entire work.
  8. DiFonzo, L’Anonimo 396-409. John of Perugia is described in the terms highlighted by Beguin in the Letter introducing The Legend of the Three Companions, cf. infra L3C 1.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 32