Papal Documents - 571 

personally accompanied.a It has thus come to our attention that your Rule contains some doubtful and unclear passages as well as certain phrases which are difficult to comprehend. But the holy confessor of Christ, Francis of blessed memory, did not want to have his Rule interpreted by any of the brothers. So towards the end of his life he commanded—and this command is called his Testament—that the words of his Rule should not be glossed: that no one should say, and here we use his own words, “that they should be understood in this or that way.” Furthermore, he added that the brothers are in no way to seek any letter from the Apostolic See. He also included several other directives that are impossible to observe without considerable difficulty.

3 Since you are doubtful in regards to your obligation to observe this Testament, you have asked us to remove the uncertainty from your conscience and that of your brothers. For as a result of the long-standing friendship between the holy confessor and ourselves, we know his mind more fully. Furthermore, while we held a lesser rank, we stood by him both as he composed the aforesaid Rule and obtained its confirmation from the Apostolic See. And so you have petitioned us for a clarification of the doubtful and obscure points in the Rule, together with a response to the difficulties.

We certainly believe that in the Testament the confessor of Christ demonstrated a single-hearted purpose and that you therefore aspire to conform to his just longings and holy desires. Nevertheless, we are aware of the danger to your souls and of the difficulties you could incur because of this. And so, wishing to remove all anxiety from your hearts, we declare that you are not bound by the Testament. For without the consent of the brothers, and especially of the ministers, Francis could not make obligatory a matter that touches everyone.b Nor could he in any way whatsoever bind his successor because an equal has no authority over his equal.

4 In addition, as we gather from your messengers, some of the brothers are entertaining doubts about whether they are bound by the counsels of the Gospels as well as by its precepts. For your Rule has as its beginning: “The Rule and life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe




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

qui eratis in Generali Capitulo congregati, et te fili Generalis Minister personaliter comparente fuit nobis expositum, quod in Regula vestra quedam dubia et obscura et quedam intellectu difficilia continentur. Sed sancte memorie beatus confessor Christi Franciscus nolens regulam suam per alicuius fratris interpretationes exponi, mandavit circa ultimum vite sue, cuius mandatum ipsius dicitur testamentum, ut verba ipsius regule non glosentur, et ut verbis utamur eiusdem, quod sic vel sic intelligi debeant, non dicatur; adiciens quod fratres nullo modo aliquas litteras ab apostolica sede petant, et alia quedam interserens, que non possent sine multa difficultate servari.

Propter quod hesitantes, an teneamini ad observantiam testamenti predicti, dubietatem huiusmodi de conscientiis vestris et fratrum vestroram per nos amoveri petistis. Et cum ex longa familiaritate, quam idem Confessor nobiscum habuit, plenius noverimus intentionem ipsius et in condendo predictam Regulam et obtinendo confirmationem ipsius per sedem apostolicam sibi astiterimus, dum adhuc essemus in minori officio constituti, declarari similiter postulastis dubia et obscura regule supradicte necnon super quibusdam difficilibus responderi.

Sane quamvis predictum Christi Confessorem piam intentionem in prefato mandato habuisse credamus et vos iustis votis eius et desideriis sanctis affectetis omnimode conformari, Nos tamen attendentes animarum periculum et difficultates, quas propter hoc possetis incurrere, dubietatem de vestris cordibus amovendo ad mandatum illud vos dicimus non teneri, quod sine consensu fratrum et maxime ministrorum, quos universos tangebat, obligare nequivit nec successorem suum quomodolibet obligavit, cum non habeat imperium par in parem.

Ad hec sicut per predictos nuntios intelleximus, dubitatur ab aliquibus fratrum vestrorum, ne tam ad consilia quam ad precepta evangelii teneantur, tum quia in regule vestre habetur principio: Regula et vita Minorum fratrum hec est, scilicet domini nostri Jesu Christi sanctum evangelium observare vivendo in obedientia,

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 571