The Kinship of Saint Francis - 701 

[Chapter II]


16 In the second place, he was conformed to Christ in the establishment of responsibilities. For three levels of holy persons can be distinguished in Christ's family: the highest rank of the Apostles who shared Christ's life and most high Gospel poverty; the second rank of the holy women who chose that life, of whom the Virgin Mary was the first and the abbess; the third rank of men and women living in holiness and justice, yet not ascending to the height of poverty, but ministering to Christ and the Apostles from their resources. Similarly, the glorious Francis repaired that threefold ranking, almost totally destroyed in his day, in the three orders founded by him. He placed Brother Peter Catanio over the first, that is, the Order of Lesser Brothers, as Christ did Peter over the Apostles. Over the second order, that is, over the Minoresses, he placed Saint Clare, which harmonizes with the name of the Virgin because that woman was called Mary, meaning "enlightened," and in this does not sound very different from the name of Saint Clare, "brilliant." And as we do not read that Christ placed prelates other than the Apostles over those of the third rank, so Francis placed the Penitents under the correction of the Lesser Brothers, as we can find in their Rule.

In a vision a devout man, who was called Pietro Pettinario of Siena, saw that reform in the great church. He saw Christ Jesus with many saints walking on a path and many following Him, one going here, another there, covering his footprints with dust, and many were leaving from them. He then saw Francis coming from afar, searching here and there for Christ's footprints. Noticing they were covered with dust, he removed the dust with his clothes and, after finding Christ's footprint, used to place his foot there. Then finding another footprint, he would place his foot there, and was continuing that way until he came to Christ without any detour. And because today there are—and there were—some who want to hide Francis's footprints, that is his intention that he placed in The Rule, his companion Brother Leo wrote clearly of the intention which he had in this way:a




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 701