The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul - 237 

In the final analysis, The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul is a piece of spiritual literature that resonates deeply with those attempting to define the spirituality of Francis of Assisi. As it embraces a profoundly theological approach by seeing baptismal grace as the lynchpin of Francis's life, it also provides an anthropological dimension that provides insight into the saint's human nature and experience, or, as Ewert Cousins expresses it, “the inner dimension of the person . . . [where] ultimate reality is experienced.”16 While it must be read in the context of the historical milieu of the middle of the thirteenth century, Thomas's accentuation of the rich symbols that fill its history make it a text of contemporary relevance.


  1. Salimbene degli Adami, Chronicle, 166: "In the year of the Lord 1244, Brother Haymo of England, general minister of the Order of Lesser Brothers, died, and elected in his place was Brother Crescentius of the March of Ancona, who was an old man. Crescentius then commanded Brother Thomas of Celano, who had written the first Legend of Saint Francis, to write another book, because many things about Saint Francis had been discovered which had never been written. And so Thomas of Celano wrote a very beautiful book about the miracles, as well as the life of Saint Francis, which he entitled the ‘Remembrance of the Blessed Francis in the Desire of the Soul.’ "
  2. 2C 1.
  3. Cf. FA:ED I 570-575; cf. supra, 15-18.
  4. Jacques Dalarun notes that in 2C there are three episodes taken from 1C, five from AP, thirty-four from L3C, and eighty-seven from AC. One hundred one are without earlier recognizable sources, thus giving the text a total of 230 narrative episodes. Cf. Jacques Dalarun, La Malavventura di Francesco d'Assisi: Per Un Uso Storico delle Leggende Francescane (Milano: Edizioni Biblioteca Francescana, 1996), 92. The editors of this volume have assiduously studied the Latin texts of these works and attempted to bring the translations of each into uniformity so that their interdependence is obvious.
  5. The simple statement found in AC 68 Nolite facere amplius dicere [Don't make me tell you again] is changed in 2C 44 to Quid vultis ut iterum dicam? (Mt 20:32; Jn 9:27) [Do you want me to say it again?]
  6. E.g. 2C 31, 37, 40, 44, 75, 91, 122, 126, 181.
  7. For example, in 2C 45 Thomas changes "a certain brother" (AC 73) to "two brothers" travelling to Greccio to catch a glimpse of Francis. "Two brothers" travelling together is more in accord with the Gospel injunction (Lk 10:1) and Thomas's earlier reiteration of it in 1C 29. In another instance, Thomas changes the occasion of Francis's appearing as a poor, humble pilgrim before the brothers at Greccio from Christmas (AC 74) to Easter (2C 61). This allows him to place greater emphasis on the example of Francis as a pilgrim, an important point in LR VI 2.
  8. E.g. 2C 21-22, 59, 64, 73, 100, 151, 165. In 2C 21-22, the story of the brother dying of hunger, Thomas recasts AC 50 in order to accentuate Francis’s image as a shepherd in caring for his sheep. In 2C 38, the story of the young woman coming to Francis with a complaint about her cruel husband, Thomas re-orders AC 69. In Thomas's rendering, Francis is sensitive to the "delicate and tender" woman who dies on the same day as her husband. In this way, Thomas emphasizes their celibate lives as a sacrificial offering, the "one as a morning holocaust, and the other as an evening sacrifice."
  9. François De Beer, La Conversion de Saint François selon Thomas de Celano (Paris: Éditions Franciscaines, 1963).
  10. 2C 26.
  11. Engelbert Grau, "Thomas of Celano: Life and Work," GR 8:2 (1994): 190.
  12. Cf 2C 10.
  13. The Latin word mandatum [command] is significant in 2C where it is used far more than in 1C. See infra 2C 5, 245 a.
  14. Cf. 2C 27 For specific introductions to the various individual narratives in which Thomas theologically contextualizes the various memories of Saint Francis, see the following: 2C 27 (prophecy), 55 (poverty), 94 (prayer), 102 (Scripture), 115 (temptation), 125 (spiritual joy),135 (hiding the stigmata), 140 (humility), 151 (obedience), 159 (idleness), 165 (love for creatures), 172 (charity), 189 (simplicity), 201(devotion to Eucharist), 202 (devotion to relics), 203, (devotion to the cross), and 204 (the Poor Ladies).




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, p. 237