The Book of Chronicles (Prologue and the First Tribulation) - 375 


The Book of Chronicles or of the Tribulations of the Order of Lesser Ones is as controversial as is its author, Angelo Clareno (+1337). It is a work of the heroic and of the heinous, of fact and of fiction, of ideals and of politics. While attempting to chronicle the history of the first century of the history of the "Lesser Ones" through the lens of the sufferings inflicted on them, it has the sense of a personal apologia written by a man tormented by the contradictions of his life. Scornful of the academic, his writings reveal a scholar facilely quoting even the more obscure patristic authors. Disdainful and skeptical of authority, even to the point of being branded a schismatic, his life reveals the obeisance of an individual torn by the riptides of the history that continued to engulf him.

Historians estimate the author's birth at Fossombrone in the Marche of Ancona at about 1255.1 He was given the name Pietro. He entered the Order of Lesser Brothers in 1270, sided with the zelanti clustering in Le Marche, and was sentenced in 1279 to seclusion and privation. When liberated in 1290 by Raimondo Gaufridi, the newly elected General Minister, Pietro was sent with three other zelanti to Armenia but the Lesser Brothers there greeted them with hostility and forced them to return. In 1294 they did so; Modaldo, Provincial Vicar of Le Marche, treated them viciously, forcing them to have recourse to the General Minister, Raimondo.2 At his prompting, Pietro joined a group led by Pietro of Marcerata and had recourse, sometime during the six months of his papacy, July to December, 1294, to Pope Celestine V. The sympathetic pope permitted them to leave the Order and to establish themselves as the "Poor Hermits" or the "Celestines."3 They promised direct obedience to the pope, to wear a monastic habit, and to observe the Rule and Testament as Francis had wanted. At this point, Pietro of Marcerata took the name Liberatus [Freed], Pietro took that of Angelus [Angel], (Clarenus [Shining] was added later).

Upon the resignation of Celestine V, the euphoria of the new group was dissipated. On Christmas Eve, 1294, Boniface VIII was elected pope and within a few days stripped the Poor Hermits of papal protection. According to Angelo's account, Liberato, Angelo and their companions withdrew to a remote place in Greece, the island of Thessaly, to serve the Lord "without people's annoyance and scandal."4 It was during these years that Angelo became proficient in Greek and, in addition to steeping himself in the Greek Fathers, he translated many of them into Latin.

In 1305, the group returned to Italy. Six years later, Angelo moved to Avignon to the court of Clement V (1305-14) whose Dudum ad apostolatus,




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 375