Miscellaneous Franciscan Sources - 815 

influence, but also had become corrupted by wealth and power.a At the same time, he was convinced that a coming sixth status of renewal had already begun in the thirteenth century; Francis was its prophet and poverty its sign. Thus the conflicts Olivi was witnessing were actually the death-throes of the old order: the threatened carnal church, seeing its period of dominion coming to an end, was mounting a fierce battle against the spiritual church of the dawning sixth period.

Olivi's Apocalypse commentary had a major influence on Ubertino of Casale's Tree of Life. In 1317, Pope John XXII asked a commission of theologians to investigate its orthodoxy; although the commission suggested in 1319 that the work be condemned, the Pope did not actually carry out this verdict until 1326. The selections that follow are among the excerpts from the work used by the Papal investigating commission.b

1 It should be known that just as our most holy father Francis is, after Christ and under Christ, the first and chief founder, initiator, and exemplar of the sixth status and its evangelical rule, so he, after Christ, is primarily designated by this angel. As a sign of this fact, he appeared transfigured in a fiery chariot in the sun, so that it might be evident that he has come in the spirit and in the image of Elijah, as well as to bear the perfect image of the true sun, Jesus Christ. He was singularly strong in every virtue and work of God. Through the deepest humility and recognition of the first source of every nature and every grace, coming down always from heaven, and through airy and subtle spiritual lightness free of every earthly weight, he was clothed with a cloud, that is, with the most profound poverty, and was filled with heavenly waters, that is, with the highest possession and draught of celestial riches. He was also clothed with a cloud, that is, the dark cloud of still contemplation, which according to Dionysius in the book entitled Mystical Theology is signified by the cloud in which God appeared and spoke to Moses . . .

2 He has in his hand, that is, in the fullness of work and full possession and power, the open book of the Gospel of Christ, as is evident from the Rule that he kept and wrote down, and also from the evangelical way of life that he founded. He placed his right foot upon the sea in that he went to convert the Saracens and labored with the highest energy and fervor to go to them three times to receive martyrdom, as is written in the ninth chapter of his Legend. In the sixth year from the time of his conversion he went as the Angel of the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 815