Papal Documents - 570 

I) Quo elongati of Gregory IX (1230)

This document was destined to be one of the most influential in Franciscan history. As Gregory states, he composed it at the request of the general chapter of 1230, where growing divisions and some confusion were apparent among the brothers as to how they should interpret various provisions in their Rule. One particularly poignant issue was the juridical authority of Francis’s Testament: Ps 55:6 [Vulgate, Ps 54:6] was it simply an exhortation or did it establish an interpretive context for the observance of the Rule? But this was only one of a number of issues generated by the Order’s rapid numerical growth, geographical expansion, and increasing involvement in the pastoral ministry of the church.

The brothers undoubtedly appealed to Gregory not simply because he was the Pope, but because he had been Francis’s close advisor and the Cardinal Protector of their Order. But Gregory was first and foremost a jurist: for him the Rule was a legal document, which now had an existence independent of its original author. His decisions, ultimately those of a pragmatic if principled administrator, paved the way for the increased accommodations of the Order to the demands of its pastoral ministry and for succeeding Papal expositions of the Rule.a

Gregory, Bishop and Servant of the servants of God, to our beloved sons, the general and provincial ministers, the custodians, and the other brothers of the Order of Minors: greetings and apostolic benediction.

1 The further you have flown away from the world, above yourselves, having taken wing like a dove into contemplative retreat, the more clearly you perceive the darts of sin; the more too can the eye of your heart scrutinize those things which you recognize to be obstacles on the road to salvation. Thus at times the Spirit discloses to your consciences what lies hidden to others. Still, because the darkness of human weakness beclouds the splendor of spiritual understanding, occasionally the anxiety of doubt presents itself, and thus difficulties that are almost insurmountable begin to pile up.

2 And so, beloved sons, there recently arrived at our court a delegation whom you, provincial ministers, dispatched as you met in general chapter, and whom you, beloved son, as General Minister,




Quo elongati, Bullarium Franciscanum, p. BFr 1, p. 20-25

Quo Elongati of Gregory IX (1230)8

[Gregorius episcopus servus servorum Dei dilectis filiis] Generali et Provincialibus Ministris ac Custodibus ceterisque fratribus Ordinis Minorum [salutem et apostolicam benedicitonem].

Quo elongati a seculo ut columbe pennis assumptis in secessum contemplationis super vos ipsos altius evolastis, eo conspectius peccatorum iacula previdetis et plura, per que conspicitis salutis impediri profectum, cordis vestri oculus perscrutatur. Unde que tecta sunt aliis, in conscientiis vestris quandoque spiritus manifestat, sed splendore intelligentie spiritalis caligine humane infirmitatis obducto scrupulus interdum dubitationis inducitur et difficultates quasi inextricabiles ingeruntur.

Sane constitutis nuper in presentia nostra nuntiis, quos vos filii Provinciales ministri misistis, qui eratis in Generali Capitulo congregati, et te fili Generalis Minister personaliter comparente fuit nobis expositum,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 570