A Liturgical Legend in the Tradition of the Friars Preacher - 832 

A Liturgical Legend in the Tradition of the Friars Preacher

At the beginning of his Book of Praises, Bernard of Besse mentions two lives of Saint Francis written in Italy, one by Thomas of Celano, the other by a Prothonotary, John.a In his Expositio super Regulam II 124, written in about 1321-22,b Angelo Clareno refers to the work, as he does in a letter written to Filippo di Majorca, and in the Book of Chronicles or Tribulations of the Order of Lesser Ones. And Arnald of Sarrant in his The Kinship of Christ refers to the work,c as, in the sixteenth century, does Mariano da Firenzed and Peter Rudolph a Tossiniano,e in the seventeenth, Luke Wadding.f None of these authors quotes the text. Only Bernard of Besse indicates its opening words, Quasi stella matutina. And none of the later authors, Mariano or Wadding, indicate where it might be found. Thus questions abound concerning it. Is there any existing manuscript of the work? Did it fall prey to the decision of the Chapter of 1266 to remove all other lives of Saint Francis in favor of that of Bonaventure?g Was it absorbed into some other portrait?

Part of the difficulty is the identification of John "the Prothonotary." Bernard of Besse is the first one known to have referred to him as such. Angelo Clareno identifies him as Brother John of Celano, an identification which Arnald of Sarrant rejects in favor of John "the Prothonotary." It is not until the sixteenth century that Mariano of Firenze further complicates the issue by writing of John in the following way: "Brother John of Ceperano, Notary of the Apostolic See, out of the great devotion that he had for Saint Francis, wrote of his life beginning Quasi stella matutina." Wadding accepted this, but added that he wrote because of "the mandate of Gregory IX." Thus more questions arise.

At the turn of the last century, Edouard d'Alençon examined the questions in light of a note made by a Dominican, P. Denifle, who had discovered that the Friars Preacher, after a period of difficulty in determining the texts of their




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 832