The Assisi Compilation - 155 

hood where that church was built, which from earliest times was called "Portiuncula." Blessed Francis used to say: "This is why the Lord willed that no other church be granted to the brothers, and why the first brothers would not build any completely new church, and would not have any other but this one. For this church was a prophecy that has been fulfilled in the coming of the Lesser Brothers." And although it was poor and almost in ruins already for a long time, the people of the city of Assisi and its neighborhood had always held the church in great devotion and hold it in even greater devotion today.

As soon as the brothers went to stay there, almost daily the Lord increased their number; and their fame and reputation spread throughout the whole valley of Spoleto. From old times, it was named Saint Mary of the Angels, and called by the local people Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. But after the brothers began to repair it, the men and women of that region would say: "Let's go to Saint Mary of the Angels."

Although the abbot and the monks had freely granted that church to blessed Francis and his brothers without any payment or annual tax, blessed Francis, a good and experienced teacher who wished to build his house on solid rock, that is, his congregation on great poverty, every year used to send the abbot a basket full of small fish called "lasche." He did this as a sign of greater humility and poverty, so that the brothers would not have any place of their own, and would not remain in any place that was not owned by others, and thus they in no way had the power to sell it or give it away. Each year, when the brothers brought the little fish to the monks, they in turn, because of the humility of blessed Francis, who had done this of his own will, gave him and his brothers a jar filled with oil.

We who were with blessed Francis bear witness that he spoke of that church with great conviction, because of the great preference that the Lord indicated there and revealed to him in that place, namely that among all the other churches of this world the blessed Virgin loves that church. Therefore, during his whole lifetime, he had the greatest reverence and devotion toward it. And so that the brothers would always keep its remembrance in their hearts, at his death he wanted it written in his Testament that the brothers do likewise.

About the time of his death, in the presence of the general minister and the other brothers, he said:

"I want to leave and bequeath to the brothers the place of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula as a testament, that it may always be held in the greatest reverence and devotion by the brothers. Our old brothers did this: for although the place itself is holy, they preserved its




Compilatio Assisiensis, Fontes Franciscani, p. 1534-1535

17Unde Portiuncula dicta est propter illam contratam ubi constructa est illa ecclesia, que antiquitus Portiuncula est vocata. 18Nam dicebat beatus Franciscus: « Propterea voluit Dominus ut nulla alia ecclesia fratribus concederetur et quod de novo aliquam ecclesiam tunc primi fratres non construerent nec haberent nisi illam, quoniam illa fuit quedam prophetia que adimpleta est in adventu Minorum fratrum ». 19Et licet esset paupercula et quasi iam destructa per multum tempus, semper homines civitatis Assisii et illius contrate habuerunt in illa ecclesia magnam devotionem et maiorem habent usque hodie.

20Unde statim quod iverunt illuc fratres ad manendum, quasi cotidie multiplicabat Dominus eorum numerum e et rumor de ipsis et fama exiit per totam vallem Spoletanam. 21Antiquitus tamen vocata est Sancta Maria de Angelis et a provincia dicta est Sancta Maria de Portiuncula. 22Unde postquam fratres ceperunt reparare illam, dicebant homines et mulieres illius provincie: « Eamus ad Sanctam Mariam de Angelis ».

23Et licet abbas et monachi libere concessissent beato Francisco et eius fratribus illam ecclesiam sine datione aliqua et censu annuo, 24tamen beatus Franciscus, tamquam bonus et peritus magister qui domum suam voluit edificare super firmam petram videlicet et congregationem suam super magnam paupertatem, annuatim mittebat ipse fiscenulam plenam pisciculis qui vocantur lasce in signum maioris humilitatis et paupertatis, 25ut fratres nullum proprium locum haberent nec in aliquo permanerent qui non esset sub dominio aliquorum, ita quod fratres non habeant potestatem vendendi vel alienandi quoquo modo. 26Et cum fratres portabant monachis pisciculos annuatim, ipsi, propter humilitatem beati Francisci, qui ex voluntate sua illud faciebat, dabant sibi et fratribus suis quoddam vas plenum oleo.

27Nos vero qui fuimus cum beato Francisco, testimonium perhibemus quod ipse cum affirmatione verbi de illa ecclesia dixit, quoniam propter multam prerogativam quam Dominus ibi ostendit et in illo loco sibi est revelatum, quod inter omnes alias ecclesias huius seculi quas beata Virgo diligit, diligit ifiam ecclesiam. 28Propterea toto tempore vite sue maximam reverentiam et devotionem in ipsa habuit; 29et ut fratres memoriale in cordibus suis semper haberent, circa mortem suam scribi voluit in Testamento suo ut fratres similiter facerent.

30Nam circa mortem suam coram ministro generali et aliis fratribus dixit:

« Locum Sancte Marie de Portiuncula volo ordinare et fratribus relinquere in testamentum, ut a fratribus semper habeaturin maxima reverentia et devotione. 31Quod et antiqui fratres nostri fecerunt: licet enim locus ille sit sanctus, ipsi tamen conservabant sanctitatem eius cum continua oratione die noctuque et continuo silentio,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 155