The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 234 

In Book Two Thomas shifts his attention from specifically biographical information to a more thematic presentation of ideals. “We will attempt,” he proposes in his Prologue, “to express and carefully state the good, pleasing, and perfect will of our most holy father. This concerns both himself and his followers, the exercise of heavenly discipline and that striving for highest perfection which he always expressed in love for God and in living example for others.” To accomplish this, Thomas relies heavily on The Assisi Compilation. Even a cursory examination of incidents found in both The Assisi Compilation and The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul reveals subtle differences but general dependency. The Assisi Compilation offers simple, colloquial, and immediate presentations of these incidents. To these Thomas brings his eloquent and literary style as well as his facility with Scripture to re-present the same stories within the framework of his specific purposes.5 Many times, he omits the details of The Assisi Compilation, especially geographical ones that are not pertinent.6 Sometimes he changes certain details in order to accentuate his themes;7 at others, he shortens descriptions to develop more clearly their theological significance.8

While a more precise, in-depth comparison of The Anonymous of Perugia, The Legend of the Three Companions, The Assisi Compilation, and The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul needs to be done, the inter-dependence of these texts is evident. The letter at the beginning of The Legend of the Three Companions attests to a block of information sent in response to Crescentius's request. That could easily have been the data of The Legend of the Three Companions edited to include much of the The Anonymous of Perugia, as well as that of The Assisi Compilation. In the final analysis, Thomas's work reflects the input of Francis's companions, crafted, however, according to Thomas's own design. Little wonder, then, that Thomas concludes his work with a prayer of the saint's companions. It adroitly omits any mention of “we who were with him,” and so it may be seen as a prayer of Thomas himself as well as of any of Francis's companions.


Aside from the Prologue (2C 1-2) and the lengthy concluding prayer (2C 221-224), Thomas divides this work into two disproportionate sections. Book One is made up of only twenty-three paragraphs (2C 3-25) that, as noted, are biographical in nature. Book Two, on the other hand, contains one hundred and ninety-nine paragraphs (2C 26-220) presented in a thematic vein. Of these, six numbers (2C 114-220) describe Francis's death and, in two manuscripts, his canonization.

Two contemporary interpretations of The Remembrance of the Desire of A Soul exist. In that of François DeBeer, Thomas centered his material around the theme of conversion and, from that starting-point organized into two books to address two themes: initial conversion and the lifetime embrace of conversion.9 The other is of Engelbert Grau who cites a passage in Thomas's introduction to Book Two for his interpretation: “I consider blessed Francis the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 234