The Life of Blessed Francis - 572 

5 He once said to his companion: "I wouldn't consider myself a Lesser Brother unless I had the attitude I will describe to you. Suppose, as a prelate of the brothers, I go to the chapter, preach and admonish the brothers, and, at the end, they speak against me: ‘You are not suitable for us, because you are uneducated, inarticulate, unlettered, and simple!' So, in the end, I am thrown out in disgrace, looked down upon by everyone. I tell you, unless I hear these words with the same expression on my face, with the same joy, and with the same resolution for holiness, I am in no sense a Lesser Brother!" And he added: "In a prelacy there is a fall, in praise a precipice, in the humility of a subject profit for the soul. Why, then, do we pay more attention to dangers than to profits, while we have time for profit?''

For this reason,
the pattern of humility,
wanted his brothers to be called Lesser
and the prelates of his Order to be called ministers,
that he might use the words of the Gospel
he had promised to observe,
and that his followers
might learn from this very name
that they had come to the school
of the humble Christ
to learn humility.
The teacher of humility,
Jesus Christ,
to instruct his disciples in true humility,
"Whoever wishes to become great among you,
let him be your servant;
and whoever wishes to be first among you
will be your slave."

When the Lord of Ostia, the chief protector and promoter of the Order of Lesser Brothers—who afterwards, as the holy man had foretold, was elevated to the honor of the supreme pontificate, and was called Gregory IX—asked him whether he would allow his brothers to be promoted to ecclesiastical offices, he responded: "My Lord, my brothers are called ‘lesser' precisely so they will not presume to become ‘greater.' If you want them to bear fruit in the Church of




Legenda Maior, Fontes Franciscani, p. 826-827

5 1Dixit aliquando socio suo: « Non mihi videor frater Minor, nisi fuero in statu, quem tibi descripsero. 2Ecce, praelatus exsistens fratrum, vado ad capitulum, praedico et commoneo fratres, et in fine dicitur contra me: Non convenis nobis, quia illitteratus es, elinguis, idiota et simplex; 3tandem eicior cum opprobrio, vilipensus ab omnibus. 4Dico tibi, nisi eodem vultu, eadem mentis laetitia et eodem sanctitatis proposito haec verba audiero, frater Minor nequaquam sum ». 5Et addebat: « In praelatione casus, in laude praecipitium, in humilitate subditi animae lucrum est. 6Cur ergo periculis plus quam lucris attendimus, cum acceperimus tempus ad lucrum? ».

7Hac igitur de causa
humilitatis forma
fratres suos voluit vocari Minores,
et praelatos sui Ordinis dici ministros,
ut et verbis uteretur Evangelii,
quod observare promiserat,
et ex ipso nomine
discerent discipuli eius,
quod ad discendam humilitatem ad scholas
humilis Christi venissent.
8Magister siquidem humilitatis
Christus Iesus,
ut informaret discipulos ad humilitatem perfectam,
Quicumque voluerit inter vos maior fieri,
sit vester minister,
et quicumque voluerit inter vos primus esse,
erit vester servus.

9Cum autem requireret ab eo dominus Ostiensis, Ordinis Minorum Fratrum protector et promotor praecipuus, qui postmodum, iuxta quod idem vir sanctus praedixerat, ad summi pontificatus sublimatus honorem, Gregorius nonus est dictus, utrum sibi placeret, quod fratres sui promoverentur ad ecclesiasticas dignitates, respondit: « Domine, Minores ideo vocati sunt fratres mei, ut maiores fieri non praesumant. 10Si vultis », ait, « ut fructum faciant in ecclesia Dei,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 572