The Kinship of Saint Francis - 705 


20 Therefore, because the holy man feared that, by reason of learning, the brothers would want to have a number of books and, in this way, sidestep poverty, and he had already foreseen that, by reason of learning, the devotion and perfection of the brothers would be lost, he therefore did not care that the brothers be free for study. And aforementioned Brother Leo testified to this, expressing blessed Francis's intention on the passage of the Rule: "Let those who are illiterate not be anxious to learn."

"Blessed Francis did not want," he said, "his brothers to be desirous of learning and books, but he wanted and desired that they be eager to have the pure and holy simplicity, prayer, and holy obedience, and Lady Poverty on which the first and holy brothers had built.a Not that they despised knowledge. On the contrary, they revered all knowledgeable persons and theologians in the religion and, to a great degree, others . . ."b

As he himself says in his Testament: "We must honor all theologians and those who minister to us spirit and life."

But, foreseeing the future, he knew through the Holy Spirit, as he also repeated many times to the brothers, that many brothers, under the pretext of edifying others, would abandon their vocation, that is, pure and holy simplicity, holy prayer, and our Lady Poverty. And it is happeningc that, because, while they believe themselves to be more imbued and more inflamed with the love of God out of an understanding of Sacred Scripture, they will occasionally remain inwardly cold and empty. And they will be unable to return to their vocation. "There are many who place all their energy and care in knowledge, losing their holy vocation and devout prayer. And when some have been edified because of their sermons or it might seem that they have been converted because of a sermon, they become proud and puffed up about the deed. For those whom they think they have edified or converted to penance by their words, the Lord edified and converted by the prayers of holy brothers, although they are ignorant of this, so that they do not boast. These brothers are, therefore, knights of the round table,




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 3, p. 705