The Book of Chronicles (Prologue and the First Tribulation) - 377 

John: his statements that Francis's Rule and Testament were inseparable, his adherence to the Trinitarian and apocalyptic teachings of Joachim of Fiore, the sermons of two of his unnamed companions, and the plan of God, at least, according to Angelo, as Francis announced it to Giles, Giacomo of Auxerre, Giacomo of Massa, Ugo, Buonromeo, and others.

After Bonaventure's death, the tribulations continued during the brief but equally cruel generalate of Jerome of Ascoli (1274-1279), later Pope Nicholas IV. Angelo's involvement in this fifth period is obvious from his lengthy, detailed descriptions of the condemnation of the zelanti of Le Marche in 1275, the persecution and death of Peter Jean Olivi during the generalate of Bonagrazia of San Giovanni in Persiceto (1279-1283), the abrupt end of the papacy of the sympathetic Pope Celestine V in 1294, Olivi's death in Narbonne in 1298, and, finally, the later persecution of the brothers of the Provinces of Provence and Le Marche. The papal doctor, Arnald of Vallanova (+1311), Popes Boniface VIII (+1303), Clement V (+ 1314), and most especially John XXII (+1334) are the principal villains of the sixth tribulation that, for a period of time, co-exists with the fifth. Angelo places his final reflections in the context of the final tribulation at the end of time. This seventh tribulation provides the rationale for the trials Angelo sees as inevitable as he points to the sufferings of Christ to which all Christians are called and to the habit of Francis that is made in the form of a cross.

Revisionist History

Historians continue to wrestle with the reliability of Angelo's account of Franciscan history. He does seem to be factual; however, he is very selective. In the sixth tribulation, for example, he writes that a further book would be required were he to describe completely all the arguments between Ubertino and the general minister, Bonagratia of Bergamo. Thus he paints a picture which is of his own making. Furthermore, Angelo provides a great deal of information concerning John of Parma, Peter of John Olivi, and Ubertino of Casale, but tells us little about St. Bonaventure.8 Finally, Angelo's perspective is that of the Spirituals. As one of its leading figures, he struggled for a rigorist interpretation of the Rule of Saint Francis and from this point of view, the Book of Chronicles is an apologia. In his attempt to tell the stories of the heroes and villains of his life, Angelo offers a revisionist interpretation of history, seeing events in terms of seven periods of tribulation.

In this light, Angelo's portrait of Francis takes on significance.9 The opening sentence of The Book of Chronicles expresses the characteristics of Francis dearest to Angelo: "the poor and humble man of God." While this image of the saint appears frequently throughout the Prologue and first tribulation, Angelo frequently qualifies it by noting Francis's likeness to Christ Crucified, at times writing of him as christiformis or cruciformis. Angelo's intense identification of Francis with Christ leads to his understanding of the call to sharing Christ's suffering. "Christ especially loved him," Angelo states, "and was kind and familiar with him, cleansing, illuminating, and forming him; drawing




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 377