Writings of Jacques de Vitry - 580 

hands. They are grieved, indeed troubled, by the fact that they are honored by both clergy and laity more than they would wish.

With great profit, the brothers of this Order assemble once a year in a designated place to rejoice in the Lord and eat together; with the advice of good men they draw up and promulgate holy laws and have them confirmed by the Lord Pope. After this they disperse again for the whole year throughout Lombardy and Tuscany, Apulia and Sicily. Not long ago, Brother Nicholas,a a provincial administrator for the Lord Pope and a holy and religious man, left the Curia and took refuge with these men, but because he was so needed by the Lord Pope, he was recalled by him. I believe, however, that the Lord desires to save many souls before the end of the world through such simple and poor men in order to put to shame our prelates, who are like dumb dogs not able to bark. Is 56:10

Letter VI (1220)

Jacques de Vitry arrived in Acre to assume his new bishopric in November, 1216. His activity was soon affected by larger events; in the fall of 1217 the armies of the Fifth Crusade began assembling in Acre, setting sail the next May to launch an attack on Egypt. In the fall of 1218 Jacques himself accompanied a subsequent expeditionary force there to assist in the siege of Damietta, which was finally conquered by the Crusaders in November, 1219. Jacques remained in Egypt until the end of the campaign in 1221. This selection is from a long letter he wrote from Damietta in February/March, 1220 to friends at home.b It is interesting that Jacques did not include this section in the version of the letter he sent to Honorius III.

Lord Rayner, Prior of Saint Michael,c has entered the Order of Lesser Brothers. This Order is multiplying rapidly throughout the world, because it expressly imitates the pattern of the primitive Church and the life of the apostles in everything. But to our way of thinking, this Order is quite risky, because it sends out two by two throughout the

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Littres de Jacques de Vitry, Littres de Jacques de Vitry, p. 72-76


sed de labore manuum <suarum > vivunt, valde autem dolent et turbantur, quia a clericis et laicis plus quam vellent honorantur.

Homines autem illius religionis semel in anno cum multiplici lucro ad locum determinatum conveniunt, ut simul in domino gaudeant et epulentur, et consilio bonorum virorum suas faciunt et promulgant institutiones sanctas et a domno papa confirmatas, post hoc vero per totum annum disperguntur per Lumbardiam et Thusciam et Apuliam et Siciliam. Frater autem Nicholaus, domni pape provincialis, vir sanctus et religiosus, relicta curia nuper ad eos confugerat, sed quia valde necessarius erat domno pape revocatus est ab ipso. Credo autem quod in opprobrium prelatorum, qui quasi canes sunt muti non valentes latrare, dominus per huiusmodi simplices et pauperes homines multas animas ante finem mundi vult salvare.

Letter VI (1216)11

Domnus Reinerus, prior sancti Michaelis, tradidit se religioni Fratrum Minorum, que religio valde multiplicatur per universum mundum eo, quod expresse imitantur formam primitive ecclesie et vitam apostolorum. Hec tamen religio valde periculosa nobis videtur eo, quod non solum perfecti, sed etiam iuvenes et imperfecti, qui sub conventuali disciplina aliquanto tempore artari et probari debuissent, per universum mundum bini et bini dividuntur.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 580