Other Chronicles and References - 593 

Burchard of Ursperg (c.1228/30)

Burchard (before 1177-1231) was a canon of the Premonstratensian abbey of Ursperg, in the diocese of Augsburg.a He visited Rome twice: first in 1198, the year of Innocent III’s accession, and again in 1210/11. It was during this latter visit that he witnessed the first beginnings of the Lesser Brothers. He was elected provost of his abbey in 1215, and eventually composed a vast “world-chronicle” towards the end of his life. His account there of the early Franciscan movement is based on the reminiscences of his Roman stay.
Burchard’s attitude towards the Lesser Brothers is decidedly more favorable than that of his confrere of Lauterberg. For him the “novelty” of the new brotherhood demonstrates that the church constantly renews itself to meet new challenges; he shared the attitude of those in the hierarchy who viewed the Franciscans as a providential orthodox alternative to heretical groups. Burchard’s is the only source which attests that Francis’s brotherhood originally went by another name.b

At that time, when the world was already growing old, there arose two religious orders in the Church, whose youth is [continually] renewed like the eagle’s, and which were approved by the Apostolic See, namely the Lesser Brothers and the Friars Preachers. Perhaps they were approved at that time because two sects, which had previously sprung up in Italy, were still around: one was called the Humiliati and the other the Poor Men of Lyons. Pope Lucius had not long before listed them among the heretics, for among them had been found superstitious teachings and observances.c Furthermore, in their clandestine preaching, which for the most part took place in their secret haunts, the Church of God and the priesthood were disparaged.

At that time we saw some of their number, who were called the Poor Men of Lyons, at the Apostolic See with one of their ministers whose name, I think, was Bernard. He was seeking to have his sect confirmed and given privileges by the Apostolic See.d In fact, they went about through towns and villages, saying that they were living the life of the apostles, not wishing to possess anything or to have a definite place to live. But the Lord Pope took them to task for certain irregular practices

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Testimonia minora, Testimonia minora, p. 18-19


Burchard of Urspreg (c. 1228/30)18

Eo tempore, inquit Burchardus, mundo iam senescente exortae sunt duae religiones in Ecclesia, cuius ut aquilae renovatur iuventus, quae etiam a Sede apostolica sunt confirmatae, videlicet Minorum fratrum et Praedicatorum. Quae forte hac occasione sunt approbatae, quia olim duae sectae in Italia exortae adhuc perdurant, quorum alii Humiliatos, alii Pauperes de Luduno se nominabant; quos Lucius papa quondam inter haereticos scribebat, eo quad superstitiosa dogmata et observationes in eis reperirentur; in occultis quoque praedicationibus, quas faciebant plerumque in latibulis, Ecclesiae Dei et sacerdotio derogabatur.

Vidimus tunc temporis aliquos de numero eorum, qui dicebantur Pauperes de Luduno, apud Sedem apostolicam cum magistro suo quodam, ut puto, Bernhardo; et hi petebant sectam suam a Sede apostolica confirmari et privilegiari. Sane ipsi dicentes, se gerere vitam apostolorum, nihil volentes possidere aut locum certum 'habere, circuibant per vicos et castella. Ast domnus papa quaedam superstitiosa in conversatione ipsorum eisdem obiecit,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 593