Liturgical Texts Introduction - 311 


The canonization of Francis of Assisi demanded the development of new liturgical texts for both the Divine Office and for the Mass so that Francis could be fittingly honored on his feast day, October 4. While the texts for the celebration of the Eucharist were taken—according to the practice of the time—from the Common of a Confessor-non-Pontiff, those for the Divine Office were developed with far more flexibility and creativity. The development of these liturgical texts is significant for two reasons. In the first place, it shows the earliest stages through which the memory of Francis was incorporated into the prayer life of the brothers and of the Church. Secondly, it shows how the theological interpretation of Saint Francis moved forward in the first years after his death. While these liturgical texts draw from Thomas of Celano’s The Life of Saint Francis, they in turn would serve as liturgical sources and inspiration for subsequent lives as the images and symbols they contained influenced the thought of his followers.

Thomas of Celano composed The Legend for Use in the Choir in 12301 Julian of Speyer completed the text for The Divine Office of Saint Francis before 12352 Several other liturgical pieces were later inserted into The Divine Office of Saint Francis and added as Sequences or amplifications of the Alleluia of the Mass,3 contributions suggesting the interest and involvement of the papal court in the formation of the liturgical cult in honor of Saint Francis. Pope Gregory IX wrote the hymn for First Vespers Proles de caelo prodiit, as well as antiphons for the Office for the Octave of the feast of Saint Francis4 Cardinal Thomas of Capua (+1243), a curial official in the service of both Honorius III and Gregory IX, composed the responsory for the third nocturn of Matins and a hymn for Second Vespers5 The Cistercian Cardinal Ranieri Capocci, also a curial official of Honorius III and Gregory IX, created a hymn for Lauds, Plaude, turba paupercula.6

Early Franciscan Liturgical Developments: The Divine Office

The second chapter of the Earlier Rule offers the first indication of the early development of a liturgical life among the brothers: ". . . all the brothers, whether clerical or lay, should celebrate the Divine Office, the praises and prayers, as is required of them. The clerical [brothers] should celebrate the office and say it for the living and the dead according to the custom of the clergy."7 The “custom of the clergy” at that time varied from church to church even within the




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 311